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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:47 am 
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On another subject - with no unified government and with weak Trading Blocks, I wonder how the Scouts would look like. Would each corporation run its own scout service? Will corporate Scouts still receive detached-duty ships? Or is this task outsourced to individual, independent Scouts who work as freelancers for the corps? I like the latter option, and instead of a "detached" Scout you might receive a Scout with a mortgage...

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:50 am 
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Golan2072 wrote:
The problem is that this will end a character's adventuring career; it's a very hefty price, and I'm not sure PCs will accept that cost.



Not necessarily.

For one thing, the affected skill area may be small enough to still allow them to adventure. Most people who got traumatized during an EVA mission switch a dirtside career, true, but adventurers can be made of sterner stuff - they´ll stay on a ship, just in a role that does not necessarily involve EVA missions.

Also, Lethe could be used as a temporary measure to allow someone to continue to function until some sort of therapy helps them cope with their trauma, at least to the point where they no longer need Lethe. And in the meantime, a group of EVA-traumatized characters may very well have dirtside adventures, until they are well enough to return to space...

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 11:59 am 
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Golan2072 wrote:
On another subject - with no unified government and with weak Trading Blocks, I wonder how the Scouts would look like. Would each corporation run its own scout service? Will corporate Scouts still receive detached-duty ships? Or is this task outsourced to individual, independent Scouts who work as freelancers for the corps? I like the latter option, and instead of a "detached" Scout you might receive a Scout with a mortgage...


I could imagine the Scouts being a corporation of their own. "Interstellar Infinite Scout Services", maybe, to keep the initials IISS?

They may well subcontract some of the actual scouting to "independent contractors" who lease scout ships from the corporation - and part of the terms of the lease state that, instead of the contractors paying lease, the corporation has a claim on a portion of whatever income the contractor may receive through their scouting. Of course, the contractor is also required to follow the corporation´s rules, including using only the corporation´s facilities for certain services such as refueling, maintenance and repair. Meaning that, in practice, all the risk and hard work is on the contractor, and all the profit ends up in the corporation´s pockets.

Except, that is, whatever profit the contractor manages to make off the books, in secret, possibly illegal, deals with who knows whom...

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Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. Sir Frederick Hoyle
Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:30 pm 
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Hmmm... There might be a case for C3 (Colonial Commerce Commission) operating a "scout service" to ensure "neutral ground" communications. This might also be tied to the starport agreements and the distress/salvage laws. I'm not sure this will apply to exploration, though, which might be outsourced to freelancers.

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:13 pm 
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Golan2072 wrote:
Hmmm... There might be a case for C3 (Colonial Commerce Commission) operating a "scout service" to ensure "neutral ground" communications. This might also be tied to the starport agreements and the distress/salvage laws. I'm not sure this will apply to exploration, though, which might be outsourced to freelancers.


Hmm... a neutral postal service. One which does - perish the thought! - sell the contents of one corporation´s correspondence to another corporation if the price is right. Much less does it accidentally lose correspondence that one interested party does not want another party to receive. Of course not. Neutral and impartial, doing their own part for keeping the far-flung colonies of humanity tied together via communication - at least for those willing to pay for it.

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Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. Sir Frederick Hoyle
Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 5:55 pm 
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World War III and Solar System Exploration: 2038-2063 (TL8)
World War III came about in 2038. Luckily enough, it did not materialize into the all-out nuclear Armageddon feared by many. Instead, the war dragged on for almost a decade until all belligerents were bled dry and exhausted by the long war years. In 2047, the war was finally over. The world was in ruins from prolonged conventional warfare and the few nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that did see use in the war.

All sides claimed victory. In reality, there were no victors - just bankrupt and impoverished nations incapable of conducting any further large-scale military operations. Politically, most governments emerged from the war at a very weakened state. They had very little support from the war-weary population. They were mostly powerless to do anything meaningful to reconstruct the ruins of their nations. Into this vacuum stepped the private sector, thrilled with the possibility of profit from reconstruction. Earth's collapsing nation-states no longer had the political power necessary to force taxes or regulations on the larger corporations. Thus these companies grew rapidly in size and power.

Bit by bit, the corporations rebuilt parts of Earth. Not all of it; not even most of it. The corporate arcologies and gated cities provided their residents with the amenities of modern life, unlike the universal poverty of the urban blight surrounding them. Rising in profits, the private sector turned its eye to research and development, as well as the industrialization of the solar system. In the late 2050's, these efforts bore fruit and resulted in a rapid succession of innovations, from suspended animation to controlled nuclear fusion.

The greatest discovery in the history of space flight came in 2061 when a dig of the Cydonia region of Mars yielded weird alien artifacts. This came after long years of rumors and strange accidents caused to spacecraft and ground vehicles in the vicinity of this region. While the Face of Mars turned out to be nothing but an oddly-shaped hill, the region itself appeared to be visited by extraterrestrial travellers, dubbed the "Visitors" or the "Antediluvians". They left behind cyclopian ruins filled with unexplainable and deadly anomalies warping time and space, as well as a plethora of artifacts, the function of which was never fully discerned so far.

First Colonial Generation: 2063-2082 (TL9)
In 2063, research into Antediluvian artifacts recovered from Mars led to the greatest invention of all times - the faster-than-light Jump Drive. It was demonstrated by a historic month-long round-trip to Alpha Centauri by Zhang-Markov Industries's starship Zhen He. Very rapidly - some would say too rapidly - Iron Star Enterprises followed suit and launches their own exploratory starship, John Glenn, on an expedition to Barnard's Star. Thus began the first generation of space colonization.

Space is dangerous, and interstellar space more so. The first interstellar travellers found this the hard way, with high mortality rates among the early explorers who ran into deadly jump drive malfunctions, vicious alien wildlife - and soon enough, inter-corporate rivalry resulting in bloodshed. But mankind continued its march to the stars, despite the small size of interstellar ships allowed by the early jump drives. Colonies soon sprang out on planets orbiting Alpha and Proxima Centauri, Barnard's Star, and Ross 154, as well as small research outposts on rockballs in orbit around Luhman 16 and SCR 1845 6357.

With the vast profits promised by extrasolar assets, corporate competition grew to enormous proportions. In the absence of any effective government beyond Earth orbit, this encouraged cutthroat methods and led to bloodshed. Warfare began with privateering and small, but overt, mercenary actions. In 2070, it grew up to a full-scale war between UEM's Olympus colony on Proxima Centauri c and the Zhang-Markov Arcadia colony on Alpha Centauri 2f. The war raged for a bloody year. In 2071, mercenaries operating for UEM accidentally (or so the official story goes) caused a meltdown of the fission reactor powering the Arcadia 2A sub-colony. The destruction and death toll - as well as the bad press they brought - brought an immediate cease fire. This made the corporations pause and think - such warfare already began rising beyond acceptable costs, and threatened to destabilize the political situation on Earth itself.

The result was the Interstellar Agreements on Colonial Commerce (IACC), signed in 2072 by the Big Four corporations and the three Trading Blocks. IACC set basic ground rules for extrasolar colonization and commerce, banned overt piracy and claim-jumping, and established the Colonial Commerce Commission (C3). The latter began as an inter-corporation arbitration body but grew to a framework of extrasolar corporate governance. It is not a government, as it does not truly govern individual citizens and holds no armed forces of its own. Rather, C3 is a system operating to serve the common interests of the Big Four and the three Trading Blocks - open commerce, avoidance of overt large-scale warfare, and preservation of the corporate order of things. C3's executive body, the Presidium, holds seven representatives - one from each Big Four megacorporation and one from each Trading Block, giving the corporations, as a group, a majority.

Second Colonial Generation: 2082-2106 (Mature TL9)
In 2082, a transit station was built on a strange rock orbiting the dim brown dwarf HSC0801 (now Sheol), linking Sol to the Solar Main in a Jump-1 chain. This allowed larger ships to travel from Sol to the colonies. Together with the development of more robust orbital shipyards and thus a larger number of starships, the second wave of interstellar colonization in the early 2080's, colonizing seven new worlds, of them only two, orbiting 70 Ophiuchi (Tehom) and Gliese 667 (Agartha), turned out to be highly promising garden worlds, with the rest being more amenable to rare and exotic element mining.

This era saw a rise in local warfare and "police actions" on Earth itself. The Trading Blocks moved to consolidate their hold over Earth's devastated and lawless Wilds, and tighten their grip over the urban Blight surrounding the arcologies. They achieved the latter to a reasonable degree, defeating many of the urban gangs plaguing the old cities. However, taming the Wilds was a failure. Equipped with the best corporate-made equipment their limited budgets can buy, the Trading Blocks tried to force their rule over wasteland areas such as the Rockies, the Levant, and Siberia. They attempted to bring "rogue states" such as Iranistan or the Free Republic of Texas into their fold. This failed miserably. The Wilders - as corporate media often referred to such people - had no intention to be governed by the Trading Blocks. They had better knowledge of their terrain. They had much better morale than the underpaid governmental armies. By the dawn of the 22nd century, the Trading Blocks all but abandoned their dream of reconquering the entirety of Earth.

However, this warfare, as well as the horrible conditions in the Blight and the Wilds, drove interstellar expansion. People were, and still are, willing to risk the deathly perils of cryosleep to reach an extrasolar colony. Even though life is harsh on the colonies and death hides behind every corner, this is still far better than living in the blasted wastelands or shelled-out cities of Earth.

Third Colonial Generation: 2106-Present (TL10)
In 2106, research into the alien artifacts and anomalies - while yet far from bringing about an understanding of the Antediluvians themselves - gave scientists valuable insights into meta-dimensional physics and exotic matter. This brought about a new generation of jump engines, allowing both larger starships and longer travel ranges. This opened up new frontiers to Humanity. New expansion began in full swing, doubling the number of extrasolar colonies within a few years.

Today, in 2120, human space boasts 43 primary interstellar colonies. Most are very small in size, especially the remote ones, though Arcadia (Proxima Centauri III) does serve as a home to almost a eleven million people. The frontier is wide open, and starships are "cheap" enough for smaller corporations and all sorts of social and religious movements to afford. Criminals, of course, can afford them as well, and piracy is a blight on the high frontier... This is a time for daring people to go out of the Sol system and seek their fortune among the stars. Many, however, will find there not their fortune - but their untimely death.

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:53 pm 
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So far I have detailed many aspects of my Hard Space setting for Classic Traveller and the Cepheus Engine, from spaceflight to history. Now it is time to detail the political "big picture" - the Trading Blocs. The next blog post will detail the Fig Four corporations, as well as the Colonial Commerce Commission and the Infinite Stars Cooperative.

Following WWIII, nation-states were too discredited and bankrupt to function individually. Furthermore, they had great trouble retaining much of their former territories. To maintain a semblance of governance, they banded together, signing trade agreements and aligning themselves with the rising corporate powers. These supra-national government entities are called Trading Blocs. Each Bloc is an economic entity first and political entity second; the Trading Blocs map to their backing corporations. On Earth, this is a corporate-government partnership. Off-world, the Trading Bloc is little more than a flag of convenience.

United Nations (UN): The original United Nations collapsed with the first shots of WWIII in 2038 and officially disbanded in 2043. However, once the war was over, China, Russia, and India reestablished the UN, at least in name. With backing from the gigantic Zhang-Markov Industries, the UN soon expanded, first to Brazil and South Africa, and later to encompass most of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of South America. They extended invitations to the (formerly) developed nations of North America and Asia to join them, but it was clear to these nations that the UN is firmly in the hands of their old wartime rivals, and thus they refused, forming their own competing Trading Blocs instead. The UN claims much of the world's territory as its own, as noted above, but only holds tenuous control over much of inland China, Siberia, and the recovering South-East Asian jungles. It also claims the Levant as its own, but holds no power there, despite repeated attempts to force its political will on it.

Today, the UN is the most populous of the three Trading Blocs and holds the most territory. It claims to be a democratic regime with equal standing for each member-nation, but the Shanghai Arcology calls the shots (together with the underground Moscow Arcology and the fortified center of New Delhi), and Zhang-Markov calls the shots in the Shanghai Arcology. In space, the UN holds titular claim over the Coreward arm of the Solar Main, with 23 colonies, 15 of then new; it also holds 3 new outposts to the Trailing of Sol.

American Federation (AF): Rising from the destruction of WWIII, the North and Central American markets began their slow recovery with the support of Iron Star Enterprises. Refusing to join the Russo-Indo-Chinese-controlled UN, the former United States, Canada, and Mexico joined forces economically. They later absorbed the Greenland, Caribbean states, all of Central America, and parts of South America as well. Power rests in the few central arcologies of Eastern North America, especially the Boston and New York arcoblocks. Behind this power lies Iron Star Enterprises, closely followed by the electronics and cybernetics powerhouse of Federated Robotics. The latter is not one of the Big Four but is very close to being the fifth corporation in line. The AF claims the entire North and Central America, as well as parts of South America, as its own but holds weak control outside the arcoblocks, and no control of the vast wastes of the former central and south-central United States. Particularly, despite frequent skirmishes and "police actions", both the Rockies Cantons and the Free Republic of Texas remain firmly outside AF control.

Today, the AF is the smallest Trading Bloc in terms of population and territory. Its federal regime is de jure composed of autonomous states, though the central arcoblocks enjoy the most autonomy, while the smaller urban sprawls, Caribbean islands, and South American states are little but puppets of the larger arcology-states.

International Commonwealth (IC): The European nations, Britain included, came out of WWIII in a bad shape, having much of the ground combat occur on their soil. To recover, they banded together to form their competitor to the UN, called the International Commonwealth (IC). It is de jure an open organization of nations, akin to the old League of Nations or United Nations. In addition to Western and Central Europe, it also includes Japan, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as a number of African countries. De facto, London, Berlin, and Neo-Tokyo set the tone and the rest follows. The IC has good control of Western Europe and Japan, but little control over the Eastern European wreckage and no control at all over the wasted Australian Outback.

Today, the IC is the second largest Trading Bloc in terms of population and territory, after the UN. Like the UN, it claims to represent the interests of Humanity as a whole, and presents itself as a more "enlightened" alternative to it. However, in practice, it represents the interests of the Royal British Interstellar Company (RBIC), United European Minerals (UEM), and their smaller Japanese competitors.

The American Federation and International Commonwealth share the Rimward arm of the Solar Main, with 19 colonies, 13 of them new. They also control 6 new outposts to the Rimward-Trailing of Sol.

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:14 am 
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I am developing my own Lovecraftian magic system for use in Traveller and the Cepheus Engine. This will be especially useful with Hard Space.

In a nutshell, under this system, anybody can attempt to learn spells by studying Mythos tomes; anybody can attempt to cast any spell. And there are no spell points or "hard" daily "spell slots".

HOWEVER:
1. Learning spells has a Sanity cost. So does studying the tomes to begin with. Learning also requires an INT throw to successfully learn; failure means you need to repeat studying it, again - with a Sanity cost. The more powerful the spell, the harder the INT throw to learn it.

2. Spells take time to cast; in many cases, hours. "Combat" spells, which are often weaker, usually take two full combat rounds to cast, and concentration might be broken if the sorcerer received damage while casting the spell.

3. Spellcasting requires an Occult skill throw. Fail by 4 or more "points" or roll "snake eyes" (there is no automatic success in spellcasting), you'll get the spell's integral "critical failure" result. The stronger the spell - the nastier the critical failure.

4. The really powerful spells damage your Sanity on failure and/or on success (Commune with Cthulhu at your own peril!). So you can technically attempt to cast any number of spells a day as you'd like, and a totally clueless layman can try to learn and cast magic (with the usual DM-3 Unskilled Penalty), but the limiting factor is the risk you're taking (a very, very powerful limiting factor), as well as casting time. Cast as many times as you dare and as the casting time allows you - at your own peril!

Yes, this means that even skilled sorcerers will sometimes fail in spellcasting - at least once in every 36 spells (on average - the chance of "snake eyes"). This is H.P. Lovecraft's legacy we're talking about here - not Dungeons & Dragons. Sorcerers do not cast powerful magic casually. They may use weak spells often, as the risks of failure for them might be bearable, but no no one takes powerful summoning and necromantic magic lightly.

This, of course, leads to all sorts of sorcerous disasters (read: adventures), as - for example - some utterly unskilled fool is just bound to try casting that 6th Circle earth-shattering summoning spell, unleashing something horrid upon the local colony!

The above were just initial thoughts and ramblings. I'll write up a more coherent magic system later on.

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:45 pm 
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Reading your history of the solar system, I am concerned that the recovery might have happened too soon after a war that bankrupted everyone. Basically 4 years after the war, martian colonies are present. I think that you should give the Trade Blocs and Corporations a decade or so to consolidate their power before moving beyond where we are today. First orbital launch after the war (comm and spy satellites) probably didn't happen until 2060s (maybe late 2050s). I think if you just bump things out a decade or two, it will be fine. Obviously, we don't know what it would really take, but when reading it, my first thought was "WOW, that was fast".

Also, your 3 Trading Blocs are pretty standard and strike me as being similar to 2300 (Europe, America, Asia). How about splitting things up a bit more... Maybe Europe is split in half again (if the fighting took place there, they are unlikely to immediately reunite under the IC). Also, add North and South America together, but put one (or 2 of the 3) dominate Arcologies in South America (1 in Brazil and 1 in Argentina maybe) that makes this Bloc very fractious and a lot of infighting but also a drive to catch up to the others... The US should not dominate this bloc (IMHO).

I think you need to figure out the sides of WW3 and build the blocks from the sides. If Russia and China ally against Europe and the US, fine, but Europe will likely split up - maybe have Britain as part of the Americas block but as a secondary partner?).

Just some rambling back.. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Hard Space Redux
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:49 pm 
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Cyborg IM1 wrote:
Reading your history of the solar system, I am concerned that the recovery might have happened too soon after a war that bankrupted everyone. Basically 4 years after the war, martian colonies are present. I think that you should give the Trade Blocs and Corporations a decade or so to consolidate their power before moving beyond where we are today. First orbital launch after the war (comm and spy satellites) probably didn't happen until 2060s (maybe late 2050s). I think if you just bump things out a decade or two, it will be fine. Obviously, we don't know what it would really take, but when reading it, my first thought was "WOW, that was fast".


I second this. A decade longer, maybe two, after the war before they progress beyond what they had before the war.

Alternatively, postpone the war a decade or two, and after war, make the corporations pick up the pieces of the pre-war space program.

Quote:
Also, your 3 Trading Blocs are pretty standard and strike me as being similar to 2300 (Europe, America, Asia). How about splitting things up a bit more... Maybe Europe is split in half again (if the fighting took place there, they are unlikely to immediately reunite under the IC). Also, add North and South America together, but put one (or 2 of the 3) dominate Arcologies in South America (1 in Brazil and 1 in Argentina maybe) that makes this Bloc very fractious and a lot of infighting but also a drive to catch up to the others... The US should not dominate this bloc (IMHO).

I think you need to figure out the sides of WW3 and build the blocks from the sides. If Russia and China ally against Europe and the US, fine, but Europe will likely split up - maybe have Britain as part of the Americas block but as a secondary partner?).

Just some rambling back.. :)


Another thought... who did NOT actively participate in WW3? They´ll still suffer damage - both from economic disruption and from direct war damage such as nuclear fallout and spreading bioweapons - but they´ll be in a massively better place than the direct participants, just like IIRC France was after the Twilight War in the 2300 history.

I think the corporations headquartered in, or with most of their assets located in, the main contestants of WW3 would be just as ravaged by the war as the nations themselves, and not in a position to rebuild them right away.

Switzerland may be the center of whatever resurgent Europe there is after the war - they´ll be largely undamaged, and although they aren´t exactly industrial powerhouses (compared to, say, current-day Germany), they´ll have more than anyone else, especially the medical professionals and pharmaceutical industries needed to help millions of victims of NBC weapons and the "conventional" epidemics that the war´s destruction will bring. I could ever see a Swiss pharma corporation become one of the Big Four eventually, through all the money and power it amassed producing medicine for the world - especially vaccines against bioweapons.

If Argentina doesn´t directly participate in the war, they´ll also be in a good position - their advantage is that they´ll probably be one of the few, perhaps the ONLY, net food exporter left in the world. You can get a lot of political leverage if you´re what´s standing between the people and death from starvation.

Lastly, I could see a Big Four originate either with someone who hires a mercenary force, and uses that force to seize and hold sources of raw materials in Africa - especially if those raw materials are either needed for the immediate post-war rebuilding (Pharmaceutical production, maybe? Components/products of plants present only in a single region in Africa?) or in the space program. That, too, should be a source of lots of money and power. Also remember that most of Africa doesn´t have nearly as far to fall as Europe or North America (or most of East Asia), so at least relatively speaking, it should be a bit easier to get parts of Africa on its feet, especially with no other outside powers to meddle there. Heck, this could even be a genuinely African affair, with the continent (or parts of it) pulling itself out of the swamp by its own hair.

_________________
Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards. Sir Frederick Hoyle
Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
Man has earned the right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone completely bat**** insane. xkcd #556
Just like people, stars can be very important without being terribly bright. Phil Plait, "Bad Astronomy"


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