The Comm Guild Maelstrom's Edge

New Book Available! Tales From The Edge: Emergence

Posted on Saturday Oct 01, 2016 at 07:00pm in Fiction

We are very proud to announce, that as previously teased, today sees the release of the first volume of the Tales From The Edge series. This series will cover all aspects of the Maelstrom's Edge universe, all factions, and fiction from a large number of perspectives and authors.

The first release - Emergence - includes stories by Tomas L. Martin, Stephen Gaskell and Andrew Everett. It will be digital exclusive on Amazon until February, when it will also get a print release alongside the second volume.

It is available right now on amazon (US / UK) for just $2.99 / £2.31, or you can get it and read it for free if you use Kindle Unlimited.

Go and check it out today, and please spread the word to your sci-fi fan friends if you enjoy it as word of mouth really helps us to thrive!

Background Fiction - Foodstuffs

Posted on Saturday Sep 24, 2016 at 06:00pm in Fiction

Across our range of fiction, there have been a number of foodstuffs unique to the Maelstrom's Edge universe noted. We'll highlight some of them here so that anyone who wants to make some labels on terrain, their own fiction, or their own vending machines have some canon options!

  • Betelbark - Traded spice.
  • Carnglen - Good brand of whisky, Epirian/general worlds.
  • Fungal Root - Karist food onboard an Ark, has a 'tang'.
  • Kulquat Fruit - Egg shaped fruit known to Phelon IV residents with inward-growing pips on its skin.
  • Pareto - Coffee like drink, caffeine source.
  • Ragleaf - Tobacco like plant, smoked and chewed.
  • Spinifex - Grass like plant (chewed, not eaten). Mild relaxant.

A hearty handshake to the first person to make a Pareto dispenser in scale!

Background Fiction - Epirian Prospector

Posted on Saturday Sep 17, 2016 at 05:00pm in Fiction

The Epirians do everything they can to reward risky endeavours. Anyone who can find a valuable world or mining resource towards the fringes of the galaxy is rewarded with a share of the wealth for as long as things are harvested. As a result of this long standing policy, large numbers of Epirian Prospectors have existed for generations.

Individuals as tough as nails, from human to alien, anyone with enough grit and the willingness to risk it all in deep space can register as a prospector and head to the rim of the galaxy, far beyond the reach of the cybel network.

Isolation, alien attack, system failures and simple betrayal cause the number of failed prospectors to vastly surpass the few successes, but with the winners purchasing entire systems with their newfound wealth, the call to the unknown is loud.

Background Fiction - Tunnelhugger

Posted on Saturday Sep 10, 2016 at 05:00pm in Fiction

Part of the development of the comprehensive background fiction for Maelstrom's Edge is ensuring a constant level of universe-specific terms. This week we discuss the term tunnelhugger.

The cybel network has been covered in detail before. As one may figure out from putting 2+2 together, the cybel tunnels can be transited by a vast range of spacecraft. The aggregate informal term for these is 'tunnelhugger'.

A tunnelhugger is a ship that has the right kind of electromagnetic shielding to repulse the constant onslaught of energy from within a cybel tunnel. If that energy makes contact with conventional matter (like the hull!) it will explosively detonate in a manner similar to a matter/anti-matter reaction. The energy requirements to sustain such shielding are immense, and therefore an engine with cybel energy capability is practically always a requirement for a tunnelhugger as well.

Tunnelhuggers are much less common than conventional craft which by their very nature reside in individual systems. Escaping the maelstrom in a conventional craft might get you close to a waystation near a cybel gate, but transiting the cybel network to safety is much less common.

Forward Guidance: Tales from The Edge

Posted on Sunday Sep 04, 2016 at 05:00pm in Fiction

Tales From the Edge is the forthcoming short story collection series from Spiral Arm Studios. The first book is scheduled for release at the start of October, and the second in February. The first book contains short stories from three authors, covering a wide range of our factions and background fluff.

The second book will contain the short stories from the third party authors mentioned during our kickstarter.

Physical copies of the books will likely be printed towards the end of the year, for sale at conventions and likely online as well. Digital copies will be available through amazon as soon as it is ready.

Sorry for the short post this week - we are finalising the cover and just making a few final decisions on the contents over the first two books, so it is a little early for us to go into extreme detail just yet!

Background Fiction - Cybel Energy

Posted on Saturday Sep 03, 2016 at 05:00pm in Fiction

One thing that we see quite frequently is a misunderstanding around cybel energy - the energy which Karist Angels feed upon, and which is harvested from the cybel tunnels at the network's irising gates. The Maelstom's energy is similar and related to cybel, but is highly volatile, unstable and unusable, with far too much volume to be contained in any way.

The energy that forms the cybel network is known as cybel energy, and is naturally occurring. Until gateways into the cybel network were first opened, cybel energy was rarely found in real space, but the first travellers through the maze of tunnels between stars soon learned that the medium of the tunnels was a powerful energy source, and today there are few space vessels that don’t use cybel energy in their shields and engines.

Natural cybel energy will annihilate with conventional matter and energy, ultimately eliminating both in a burst of heat energy. The more cybel energy and conventional matter interact, the greater the resulting explosion. A few litres of cybel losing containment creates an explosion large enough to raze a city block. It is for this reason that cybel energy is carefully controlled and typically not allowed planetside without refinement.

Cybel energy is sometimes classed as ‘Raw’ in the wild and ‘Refined’ after magnetic processing. Raw cybel energy can be harvested from the cybel network, contained or repelled by electromagnetic fields. The refinement process uses a series of concentrated electromagnetic fields to align the energy, in a similar fashion to the polarisation of light. The refining does not change the energy itself, but reduces its volatility, allowing it to be used as a fuel source when contained in various shielded vessels from small battery sized objects to huge drums for industrial and starship use, and lowering the risk of accidental discharge.

In appearance, natural cybel has purple and blue hues with a wispy texture, appearing to the naked eye like tendrils of nebulous smoke or mist. When pinched in an electromagnetic vice inside a fuel source or reactor, the energy of small reactions can be amplified and harvested as heat, driving more conventional engines and devices. Spaceships also use magnetically contained shields of cybel energy to protect their hulls, both whilst travelling through the cybel tunnels and in space combat.

The Karist Enclave, obsessed with the nature of cybel energy, have taken to using it to power their weaponry. Due to the long-term detrimental health effects of exposure to the energy this is frowned upon by other societies, but there is no denying its effectiveness as a weapon, burning into its targets and annihilating any mass it hits with devastating effect. Although cybel energy has been known by galactic civilisations for millennia, another type of cybel energy has only recently been discovered by the founders of the Karist Enclave during their escape from a Maelstrom-infected collapsing cybel tunnel. The wispy, pink energy has a peculiarly unreactive nature, allowing non-lethal physical contact with little more than superficial burns, although it also seems to interact with the human nervous system. Most who experience contact with na-cybel have euphoric feelings, a narcotic like high, and out-of-body experiences. The Karist priesthood claim that this is a glimpse of ascension, whilst others dismiss it as a dangerous drug addiction.

To clarify the above rulebook excerpt further, there is 'raw' cybel energy - that which can be harvested from cybel tunnels, there are various grades of 'refined' cybel energy, which have differing levels of volatility, with a mid-level refined version being the type which is fed to Angels, and the least volatile being 'na-cybel' - used in Karist rituals, and finally the energy of the Maelstrom which is like a super volatile form of raw cybel energy, unusable and exploding forever outwards.

Background Fiction - Stellargee

Posted on Saturday Aug 27, 2016 at 05:00pm in Fiction

Part of the development of the comprehensive background fiction for Maelstrom's Edge is ensuring a constant level of universe-specific terms. One that has become quite endearing to us is Stellargee.

While the etymology of the word should be fairly self apparent, a combination of 'Stellar' and 'Refugee', the reason for the introduction of the word was because every time we used 'Refugee', it pulled us back to the modern era/real-world settings, and away from the grandiose galactic scale vision of the universe that we try to encompass when talking about the crisis caused by the Maelstrom.

Refugee was also strongly suggestive of world-scale evacuation and migration, whereas Stellargee allowed us to vastly increase the scope of people affected and associated with the term.

Stellargee is specifically defined in our internal dictionary as "The diaspora refugees - able people temporarily on a world while fleeing the edge". Billions of people forced on to desperate planets, doing everything they can to keep themselves and their families ahead of the inevitable expanse of the Maelstrom.

Product Spotlight - Transit

Posted on Monday Aug 22, 2016 at 05:00pm in Fiction

In just 10 days time, the audiobook sequel to Transit will be released - 'Fracture'. We thought it would be prudent to use our first product spotlight post to talk about Transit - our most distributed audiobook.

For those who have not heard it, Transit is a one hour long audiobook by Stephen Gaskell which was written to serve as a broad introduction to the Maelstrom's Edge universe, following the POV character as he learns what the Maelstrom is and what it represents for his future. Amusingly enough, none of the Maelstrom's Edge factions are directly present in the story as it was written while things were still being finalised on that front and we did not want to have to retcon story number 1 if we changed anything at that time!

We've now made the first 5 minutes of Transit available here so that anyone can preview it.

We tried out a few different voice actors and studios, and differing mixtures of sound effects and music with our initial recordings. We opted for an older British accent with subtle ambient sound effects to be the standard in our audiobooks as it was deemed to be the most appropriate for the setting and avoids too much in the way of distracting sounds.

The pace of narration is deliberately designed to work well for listening to when you are either painting or driving. Painting our models is a massively enjoyable part of the hobby for us, but painting while enveloping ourselves in the universe with an audiobook makes things even better. This is why we've gone so heavy on audiobooks already, with 5 painting session length audiobooks already released on the Maelstrom's Edge webstore.

If you've got a long commute, or want to take your relaxation to the next level when painting, we hope you'll consider checking out some of the Maelstrom's Edge audiobooks.

Welcome to the Comm Guild

Posted on Saturday Aug 13, 2016 at 09:30pm in Fiction

Welcome one and all to The Comm Guild - the official blog of Maelstrom's Edge!

After a year of operating, coupled with recent changes in the way facebook works, we found that updates were getting harder and harder to share with everyone, and loads of casual bits of information and cool community items were getting buried rather quickly. JP proposed that we set up a frequently updated blog as the central point for our communications, and now you are reading it here at The Comm Guild.

Over the coming weeks, months and years, we'll be sharing everything from release news, to promotions, to fiction and artwork, to model breakdowns and more. Please bookmark us (CTRL-D), or add us to your blog reading list so that you dont miss anything!

You might have seen the name 'Comm Guild' crop up a few times in the context of Maelstrom's Edge. For those readers who are not already familiar with them, this is their story...

The Origins of the Comm Guild
When the technology for the cybel network was first discovered and human explorers set off searching for new worlds to colonise, the practice was incredibly risky. Small ships were required to jump ‘blind’ into tunnels, with no idea where they would emerge. Many adventurous prospectors joined the rush to look for inhabitable worlds. Sending larger ships was not possible without a gate being present on the other side of the cybel tunnel, so the smaller scout ships would jump through with enough equipment to build a gate, allowing larger colonisation ships to come through. Over time this coalesced into an official organisation, encompassing the adventurous prospectors, the engineers of the gates and the staff that would run the completed gate space stations. Originally they were known as the Wardens or Gatekeepers, but gradually as the cybel network grew their name changed to the Comm Guild, to represent the main currency for the operators of the cybel gates: information.

One of the peculiar quirks of the cybel network is that it can often take longer to travel between a star and one of its planets by sub-light than it takes to travel to another star system by the cybel network. This has resulted in an elaborate system of communication and trade based around the space stations located close to the cybel gates orbiting a star. Most of the large trading vessels travelling through the cybel tunnels do not have a planet as a destination. Instead, they dock for a few days or weeks at the cybel gate, offloading and onloading passengers, freight, and information. The offloaded material is carried in system by sub-light transports, and new information from interstellar travel is beamed to the system’s planets from the cybel gate’s station.

In this way, the local Comm Net is updated with news and discoveries from other systems, whilst the departing ship will take a copy of the local information net with them when they leave which they share with others in the cybel network. Naturally this mode of communication brings with it certain inefficiencies. The further away an event, the longer it takes to reach a planet, and in some cases news can be second or third hand information. Worse yet, if the network links between two star systems are convoluted or disrupted news may go missing or never be transferred. Prior to the Maelstrom, there were hundreds of agreed trading routes, most travelling in a circular fashion out from the Capital Worlds to the inner rim, taking the shortest paths to each world. The Comm Guilds ran these touring craft, and became powerful players in the galaxy, trading information and resources to worlds across the Spiral Arm.

The Comm Guild and The Maelstrom
The Maelstrom ripped apart the lives of the Comm-ships, more so than perhaps any other group of people. Ships at the core were destroyed instantly, whilst others inadvertently travelled into the Maelstrom’s path as news of the destruction had not made it out. The trade and communication links that had crystallised out of millennia of using the cybel network were destroyed forever. Although attempts have been made to restructure the circular communication trading routes, it has proven impossible all along the Edge. With the onset of the Maelstrom the Comm Guild has begun to evacuate staff from gates near the Edge of the Maelstrom, leaving the previously sought-after assets abandoned or manned with a skeleton crew to keep the gate open for straggling stellargees. With the loss of much of their wealth and power the Wardens close to the Maelstrom have become more pliable to bribes for travel, allowing dangerous groups of pirates and cults to utilise the cybel network. Some of the more audacious pirates have begun to utilise larger ships and have captured significant gate stations. In addition, the closure of some cybel tunnels by the retreat of the Comm Guild has led to many evacuation ships and planet-bound refugees being abandoned entirely.

The Darkeners
Another facet of the Comm Guild are the Darkeners, a secretive organisation set up thousands of years ago in the aftermath of the vast and destructive AI wars that occurred shortly after the birth of the cybel network. During the AI wars, thousands of worlds and billions of people were killed by the whims of warring digital minds. The Darkeners are a small group of handpicked operatives who operate within the Comm Guild. They monitor the technological advancement of civilisations across the Spiral Arm, and send out clandestine strike teams to destroy any system that has the potential to become sentient. Extremely elite trained soldiers with advanced equipment and weaponry, the Darkeners utilise the information traded at cybel gates by the Comm Guild to watch for AI developments and act when warranted. As the Maelstrom disrupts this flow of information and the ability to travel across the Spiral Arm, the job of the Darkeners to monitor nascent AI becomes harder, leading to the possibility that the AI singularity might occur somewhere.