Sidereal Confluence: Trading and Negotiation in the Elysian Quadrant
The Im'dril do not have much of an evolutionary history. Their backstory is covered here.
- Im'dril are perfectly microgravity adapted and resistant to the rigors of space, including radiation and vacuum. Stick them on the surface of a planet and you get a colorful but miserable floppy worm-thing.
- Im'dril are divided into five lineages, each inherited biological castes. Instead of physical differences, each lineage has a different set of technical skills that they know intuitively — roughly equivalent to a doctorate in the topic, plus a dozen years of experience, all known at birth. The five lineages are the miners, prospectors, diplomats, engineers, and pilots. There aren't enough miners and prospectors, so the high demand makes them the default upper class. There's too many engineers and pilots, so those are the lower class.
- Since technical skills are “intuitively obvious”, they also aren't valued by Im'dril society. Instead, they most value art, music, dancing, and other works of culture. The lower classes (engineers and pilots) have to find work somewhere, so they often go into the arts. The result is a culture that cares a great deal about art, but not the people who create it.
- Im'dril organize into clans (the bigger of which own their own ships), and those in turn organize into Fleets. Each fleet is cored on a multi-kilometer long City Ship capable of taking everyone into FTL at once. Fleets only rarely meet, and when they do it's a rather large event, with potentially messy consequences.
Im'dril have trilateral symmetry. That carries over to their ships, since it feels more “natural” to them. You might notice that the drive plume on their scout ships (ship tokens) is rather subdued: this is because they keep their ships under low acceleration to avoid stressing the crew (who hate gravity).
Im'dril text is a vertical center line with marks on either side and crossing it.
The costs associated with playing the fleet cards aren't the cost to build those fleets (that would be impossibly expensive), but instead the costs in finding them and convincing them to join the Confluence. When Im'dril fleets meet there's a great deal of partying among most people, but the folk in charge are worried: clans have a tendency to switch fleets if they think they'd do better elsewhere, and an already struggling fleet can be forced to disband. As such, most fleets are hesitant to join the Confluence.
The fleet pictures come from a wargame in the same setting (in the dark mirror universe where the Faderan never started the Confluence and the Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl and Kjasjavikalimm went to war). For the curious, here's the names of the fleets, organized by the cost to put them into play:
- Starts in play — Void Deliverance
- 3 industry, 1 info — Nebular Jig
- 1 info, 1 ultratech — Golden Wake
- 3 info — Rippling Dream
- 3 industry, 2 info — Steel Flower
- 3 industry, 1 ultratech — Violet Prominence
- 1 info, 2 ultratech — Iridium Grace
Their symbol simply has three-way radial symmetry, reflecting their own bodies and ships.
You'll note when playing the Im'dril that your demands for information, industry, and ultratech are insatiable. Industry is used to expand their infrastructure, information to search the galaxy, and Faderan relics (ultratech) make a surprisingly large chunk of their economy.
Depicts a mining ship in the upper-right, grinding into an asteroid in the upper-left. The phase diagram for steel is at the bottom (temperature going up, carbon content going right). Naturally, mining asteroids grants industry and ships.
Spend information (about the galaxy) to explore. Get a bunch of things in return, but especially ultratech (in the form of Faderan relics). The background art is scout ships from various fleets (top left and right, and bottom right). The bottom-left shows a map of the galaxy and the branching scouting patterns of the various fleets (represented by circles on the map: the three circles together are the Confluence).
Turn industry into everything else, especially ships. The background is construction ships from various fleets.
Faderan Relic Caches
Arguably the most powerful starting card: turns ultratech (Faderan relics) into way too much of everything. The Im'dril are old, and they've seen the galaxy. What the Faderan treat rare archeological expeditions, the Im'dril see as hidden bounties. The Im'dril know where the best Faderan artifacts are better than the Faderan.
Here is probably the most subtle bit of theme in the game. The Im'dril don't interact with new technologies normally. The problem is, their lineage instincts only cover the technology they start with. Everything new is unintuitive, and thus it might as well be magic. So the advances of the Confluence actually hurt the Im'dril as they can't keep up.
This is reflected in how technology interacts with them. Most obviously, there's the fleet upkeep requirement on every card, which eats into the value of those new cards. More subtly, their strong starting economy means that the additional economy they get from inventions has much less impact on them. Even more subtly, the technologies are arrayed against them. Look at the era I technologies: the only one that increases the production of ultratech (desperately needed) consumed industry (thus making it harder to run the converter with the highest input-to-output ratio). Atomic Transmutation, which frequently produces information, consumes ultratech. The era I cards that consume resources the Im'dril produce all generate victory points, and thus don't feed back into their economy (except Genetic Engineering, which is actually good for them). The best card to get out is the era II Hyperspace Mining, which produces ultratech for the price of electrical power. Awkwardly for the Im'dril, it also upgrades two different starting cards, giving them a rough choice between keeping it or consolidating their economy.
An atomic nucleus with a single additional nucleon being moved into position.
The right side is Im'dril cell division. The nucleus is bound to the inner cell wall, and the cells have two nested cell walls to better protect them from radiation. The nucleus divides during the middle of the process, in a very orderly way.
To the left is Im'dril DNA-equivalent. Notably, it has a reinforced “backbone” to make it more robust against radiation. Since Im'dril DNA doesn't fray, they don't have telomeres. Instead, a section of the DNA is being pulled out and replaced.
Im'dril picture at the bottom, and their reinforced DNA at the right. At the top is their chromosomes. Notably, they're triploid, which acts as further defense against mutation (with three copies of each gene), plus slows evolution. As a consequence, Im'dril have three sexes.
A nanomachine at the top of the card, and two nanomachines working together to build something at the bottom. The marked big thing at the back of the nanomachines is the battery.
An image of such a computer, with the bottom is a row of bits (zeroes and ones) where some of the bits are in a superposition of zero and one.
Ubiquitous Cultural Repository
Since the Im'dril don't have a homeworld, this shows several ships from the Void Deliverance linked with “internet connection” lines.
Is the same art for all versions of the card, mixing the written languages of all nine species.
The top is a picture of two computers linked by an achronal device (or the same computer linked to itself). The bottom depicts a string of ones and zeroes where a later block was transposed over an early one, moving the information back in time.
The upper-right side of the card has a picture of a methane atom where two of the hydrogens have been replaced with positronium.
Cross Species Ethical Equality
Here, the Im'dril social structure is explained. On the left is pictures expressing the five clans. Top left is the miners, top right the prospectors. Middle row is the diplomats. Bottom left the engineers, bottom right the pilots.
On the right of the card is a heirarchy of values (of skill): artistic skill at the top (represented by the note) and technical skill at the bottom (represented by the wrench). The Im'dril in the middle is looking up, towards the art and away from the technical, to drive the point home.
An industrial space folding device which is pulling resources out of hyperspace.
Interspecies Medical Exchange
Top-left is the Im'dril nervous system: three spinal chords and a three-part brain up front. Top-right is the three seperate lungs and sinuses. These are disconnected so damage to one has minimal impact on the others (Im'dril can't choke). Bottom is the Im'dril digestive tract, with stomach and extensive intestines.
For most species, this shows an above ground or subterranean organic building. For the Im'dril, it shows an organic starship.
Depicts a singularity in a containment system, being powered (and spun up) by a stream of matter.
Galactic Telecomm Control
Top is a diagram of that network linking stars, bottom is a picture of a transmission array.
Top right is a waveform generator, top left some sort of gizmo, and at the bottom a device beaming matter into existence.
An orbital structure.
Poly Species Corporations
A corporate structure diagram. Kjasjavikalimm and Paths are in the position of leadership due to their organizational skills; Eni Et and Words take on an advisory role due to their emotional and ethical understanding; Caylion, Zeth, and Unity are in middle management due to their ability to coordinate many things (and people) at once; Kt'Zr'Kt'Rtl and Words make up the research and development teams, while Im'dril, Faderan, and Mules make up the bulk of the rest of the work force.
Lacking a homeworld, the lower-left is dominated by the city ship of the Void Deliverance. The top left is a scout ship. The center and right is a large map of the galaxy, highlighting the location of various fleets.
For every other species, the back of this card is “Galactic Colonization”. For the Im'dril, it's named “Galactic Reunion”. The Im'dril never colonize, but bringing all of the fleets together is more meaningful anyway.
Various temporal manipulation devices, designed to evoke snowflakes “freezing time”.
Xeno Cultural Exchange
Top left is a few notes to indicate music. Bottom left is a nomad dancing with holoprojectors. Bottom right is a paintbrush, painting.