Navigating Locus

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MephitJames MephitJames's picture
Navigating Locus

So, my players are headed for Locus as I start them off with the Glory adventure, and I'm really struggling to comprehend what it looks like from the Rimward description. The important details are that it is a Nuestro sphere (like a sea urchin with rings between the spines), that it has a conical chunk out of it (with a width 1/4 of the total circumference), and that it has a navigation system based on ring numbers and spine names (the latter using the Japanese katakana alphabet). The following is my work-through of the location, with feedback welcome!


At the center of Locus is the Amoeba, a shifting AR art piece which stays anchored on the sphere's center point. The outer sphere has a radius of about 5.5km and there is a big conical section taken out of it exposing the Shell that surrounds the Amoeba to vacuum. The width of the hole that the conical section makes in the outer shell is 8.5km wide ("1/4 of the overall circumference of the sphere") meaning the whole thing is 34km around. A 34km circumference sphere has a radius of 5.4km, but we can explain this by saying that the last 100m of each spar sticks out past the sphere's outer surface (see Rimward p. 57, fourth full paragraph on right).

Now the hard part. There are spars every 11.25° around the Shell (p. 58) which means in the equatorial plane (ignoring the conical section for now) there are 360/11.25 = 32 spars in a big starburst coming out from the Amoeba. It all needs to be symmetrical so the vertical slice should have 32 as well, which we get by rotating the equatorial plane every 11.25° sixteen times. This means 32 x 16 = 512 spines total... except we also need to take out some for the conical section. Sigh.

The total surface area is 4*pi*(5.4^2) = 366km^2 while the conic section's surface cut-out is 2*pi*(5.4^2)(1-cos(45°)) = 53.7km^2 (yeah math!). This is more complicated than using the hole's radius (4.25km) for pi*r^2 since the surface is a spherical one and not a flat circle. All of this just goes to show that the surface area is missing about 15% thanks to the conical section. Subtracting 15% of the radial spines we get...

437 Spines

For the rings, we know that there are 25 rings in the equatorial plane (p. 59) and 52 rings total from top to botton of Zenith spar (to keep up the symmetry, let's assume that the author meant 52 besides the ones in the equatorial layer which technically don't touch Zenith; so 26 north and 26 south). As Zenith spar is 10.8km long (excluding the 0.2km we decided were on the outside) that's a ring plane every 200m down the spine with 200m on either end to spare (more or less what's described on p. 59). If the first two layers of rings north and south also have 25 each and then each layer after that has one less, the very last layer at each end of Zenith spar has one layer. That seems nice to me. So in the end we have 350 + 25 + 350 =

725 Rings

This is a lot of real estate...


So the spines are named "according to a complex system using letters from the Japanese katakana alphabet." Ugh. Let's start with the rings, because there's no mention of their system and we're free to experiment. First thing is that there's an equatorial layer and then 26 layers on either side, so let's go with English letters. Because there's a north and a south there will be A, B, C, etc and -A, -B, -C etc. The middle layer will be Azimuth, or "Az" to Lokies. The rings in each layer will be just numbered so some example ring names would be A15, -C8, or Az23. If something is on Zenith, they just call it ZenC, -ZenG, or ZenAz (which is not really used as it's just the Amoeba).

Now for spines. There are an amazing number of spines, but we can cut that down by following the example of Zenith Spine: both sides of Zenith Spine (either side of the Amoeba and Shell) are called by the same name instead of Zenith North and Zenith South or something. It's not exactly half of 437, though, because of the missing 15% so it's half of the original 512 or 256. We just know that 15% of these end once they reach the Shell at the center.

The difficulty here is that there are 72 characters in katakana (including the obsolete we and wi, and the vocalic wo... we need all the characters we can get). These give us what would be consonant-vowel pairings in English: ka, de, go, etc. The vowels can also be held longer (i.e. like the a in "stall" vs. the a in "walk"... I think that works for most dialects) so we can double this to 144 characters. There's also a diphthong in katakana where ya, yo, and yu are attached to characters to turn ka into kya, etc. There are 12 characters, discounting the empty character, the W, and Y... and we can have long and short versions of these endings. So that gives us 12 x 6 = 72 for 216 total. For the last forty, let's embrace the anarchist symbology and have forty circled characters for those spars (conceivably, they're the ones surrounding the conical section so they aren't mentioned as much). Specifically, they'll be the first five consonants (K, S, T, N, and H) with the eight vowel endings (A, E, I, O, U, YA, YO, and YU).

Bam, done. Some sample spine names then are: ka, daa, hyo, circle-yuu, ma, etc.

Addresses: Sample addresses would be ring-and-spine such as "Come down to Goru Mat's nothing-but-masks-soiree! Hab cluster at -C18 and Kyaa!"

Tzimize Tzimize's picture
MephitJames wrote:There are

Thank you, this help is welcome

My Eclipse Phase spanish blog

Baribal Baribal's picture
This is one of those

This is one of those situations where "A picture is worth a thousand words" applies literally.

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational |

Baribal Baribal's picture
Okay, now I've re-read the

Okay, now I've re-read the description of Locus, too, and it's finally stopping to make my head buzz... But before commenting and suggesting stuff, I'd like to repeat Locus' description as I have understood it, because it's still pretty bizarre.

There's two major axes named: The one from polar Zenith spar to polar Zenith spar, usually just called The Axis, and the one from conical cutout to azimuth spar. To use terms that us people who didn't grow up in zero-g are used to, let's imagine being at Locus' center, looking towards Proxima Centauri through the cutout's center, orienting our up-down along The Axis. The equatorial plane aligns with our equator, being our front-left-back-right-front.

This is where things start to become a bit fuzzy, as I can imagine two major designs that'd fulfill this description. One is Locus being a subset of a cylinder, 52 discs stacked on top of each other, the disks towards the extremes becoming smaller and smaller to still fulfill a mostly spherical design. Then Locus would only look like a starburst if seen from the top or bottom, as the spars of different disks would be parallel to each other.

The other design is one where the equatorial plane is only the degenerate version (in the mathematical sense) of a cone's "main" surface (the one around the tip). Further layers above and below the plane are proper cone main surfaces, with the cone being more and more acute on each layer, until it collapses to a 0 degree degenerate case to form the Zenith spar. In this design, the 11.25° spacing between "radiating" spars going outward would mean that the closer one gets towards the pole spars, the closer the radiating spars get to each other. This can be mitigated by letting some of those radiating spars start further outward, with only the arterial spars anchored to the Sphere itself.
This design is definitely more sphere-like in nature, as spars going from layer to layer would also form rings, along planes orthogonal to the equatorial plane.

Both designs are extremely bizarre in one aspect though: The placement of the cutout. Naively I would have assumed that its center would be one of Locus' poles, with rings forming around that polar axis. But that assumption just doesn't match up with either design.

As for labeling spars with katakana, leaving out the hentaigana, we have 45 basic symbols, 25 more with dakuten and handakuten (although now ji and zu refer to two different symbols each), and then we double that number with the -n symbol, yielding 140 syllables before even touching on the *i-y* digraphs. I'd assume that each "slat" of spars shares one kana, and maybe each layer has another, leading to two-kana names for each spar, with lots room for growth before running out of characters. But, frankly, the whole "named using katakana" aspect seems kind of handwaved in. Especially since IMO it'd be much more sensible to use polar coordinates based on hiragana, then interpret them as furigana to get a set of kanji that could serve as mnemonic names for each spar.
I'd also like to take a moment to point out that the Japanese writing systems are of a quality that in other places of the world would be described as "cruel and unusual".

Seeing how Nuestro spheres are usually enclosed in geodesics, I do have to ask though: Why bother with regular geometry at all? Build the Sphere as a center, lash a bunch of short spars to it, cross-connect their ends, forming for instance an icosahedron, and as more and more people come to stake their plots, add more and more spars, use triangular subdivision to build up further layers that form a three-dimensional version of a geodesic dome. Maybe that's one bit of EP lore that can be overhauled in v2?

Morgan's Butchery | Body bank, morph individualization and upgrades | Psychotherapy and Psychosurgery, therapeutic and recreational |