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Mindjammer 2nd edition sneak preview: The Chembu and the Planetary Intelligence

January 10, 2013

The second edition Mindjammer RPG

The second edition Mindjammer RPG

Hey folks,

I’m deep down in the New Commonality of Humankind this month, doing the final write-through of the upcoming Mindjammer 2nd edition RPG, due out spring 2013 and using the new Fate Core rules. I mentioned late last year I’d try to post updates and peeks – so here’s a look at the character creation guide for the hominid genotype the Chembu, the genurgic enhancement specialists of the Commonality (you may recognise them from General Ulgus in the Mindjammer novel). I hope you like it – and of course there’s lots more to come in the bumper 300-page hardback in a few months!



Hominids derive from human stock which through genurgy or genetic drift have become separate sub-species. Some are far removed from their human ancestors. Four hominid species — the Chembu, Javawayn, Hydragand-Dezimeer, and the Viri — are presented below; you can find others in Chapter 17: Alien Life and Chapter 20: The Darradine Rim.


Base Cost: 3 aspects, 1 stunt

The Chembu are genurgists — specialists in genurgic enhancement — and the managers of the Chembu Genurgy Corporacy (page XX). Their homeworld is a water-world inhabited by a bizarre organic global mindscape-analog, which welcomed the original colonists (after some horrific initial misunderstandings) into its “mass mind”. Known as the “Planetary Intelligence” or just “Chembu”, it’s connected to the Mindscape, although its thoughts are too alien for most people.

Before the colonists’ arrival, the Planetary Intelligence lived by genurgically modifying its environment; the Chembu hominids now have a symbiotic relationship with it, a phenomenon with significant philosophical ramifications. It has sensory, communication, and manipulative organs best described as “psionic”, whose powers the Chembu have been unable to replicate.

The Chembu themselves are genurgically-enhanced waterworld dwellers (see “Genurgic Enhancements” on page XX). They appear “streamlined”, with hairless, dolphin-like skin, lungs and gills, and other modifications. When creating a Chembu character, you may use your character aspects, skills, and stunts to buy genurgic enhancements as well as your extras budget.

Chronological Age: 40-60+
Apparent Age: Mature adult
Typical Occupations: Corporacy Mercantilist, Diplomat, Genurgist
Typical Enhancements: Extended Lifespan
Mandatory Extras: Gills, Mindscape Implant
Flaw: Weakness to hot, dry conditions

Genotype Aspects
You must take at least 1 of these.

Commune with the Planetary Intelligence
Chembu is Mother, Chembu is Father, Chembu is All. No human can understand the all-encompassing love that is the commune with the Planetary Intelligence.

  • Invoke: To succeed at a recovery obstacle for a consequence caused by mental stress; resist coercion or intimidation; gain knowledge which may be known by the Planetary Intelligence (similar to Mindscape exomemory — see page XX).
  • Compel: To be lost or susceptible to coercion or suggestion when out of contact with the Planetary Intelligence; be lost within or distracted by the massmind of the Planetary Intelligence.

The Individual is Nothing: the Group Mind is All
You may look like an individual, but in many ways you’re not. There is only one Chembu.

  • Invoke: To gain strength from the knowledge that you’re not alone; share knowledge, feelings, perceptions; communicate effortlessly with Chembu.
  • Compel: To have difficulty understanding individualism; act counter to your own individual interests if it benefits Chembu; be distracted by the Group Mind.

Nature is to be Improved Upon!
The Planetary Intelligence improved you; now it is your mission to improve the cosmos, one being at a time.

  • Invoke: To find and take advantage of flaws in a naturally evolved being; gain a bonus when creating, understanding, implementing, or repairing a genurgic enhancement.
  • Compel: To act superior to lesser beings; stumble upon a flaw in yourself; point out a flaw in others, or attempt to fix it.
The Planetary Intelligence
The Planetary Intelligence is perhaps the most remarkable being ever encountered by humankind. The biosphere of the world of Chembu exhibits emergent properties which aren’t reducible to its constituent organisms; in effect, the whole planet is a single organism, alive and conscious in ways which its constituents — including the genurgically modified Chembu hominids — aren’t able to comprehend.

All organisms on Chembu appear to be attuned to the emergence and maintenance of the Planetary Intelligence — in essence, every plant, every animal-analog, acts as though it was an organ or computing constituent contributing to the Intelligence’s whole. Commonality scientists theorise that’s exactly what they are — that, at some point in the distant past, the predecessors of the Planetary Intelligence reconfigured all the life forms on their planet to act as nanomachine assemblies, giving birth to a single, planetwide organism.
And it’s teaching the Chembu how to do this. And it appears to have a sense of humour…

The Chembu aren’t the only “children” of the Planetary Intelligence. Since First Contact, the Planetary Intelligence has worked with the Commonality to create the Bioship Fleet — interstellar vessels comprising mechanical components mixed with organic material hybridised from mixed human and Chembu stock.
The Chembu bioships are amongst the biggest of the Commonality’s citizens: vast cyborg bio-mechanical starships, the oldest can be as much as ten kilometres long. The first bioship, with an incept date of 244/77, is Planet Seed 1; now over 115 years old, it’s 10.5 kilometres from end to end, and still growing…


That’s all for now – more to come! Let me know what you think – and fire away if you have any questions.

Sarah 🙂 x

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Conrad Murkitt permalink
    September 17, 2013 4:21 pm

    Sarah, What is the latest on 2nd edition? I see most of these updates are early this year for a spring 2013 release but we are now approaching autumn. I am interested as I am currently reading, and enjoying Mindjammer, so curious about the game!

  2. May 12, 2013 5:44 am

    Rectify is the story of a man who was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit, and spent 19 years on death row before getting out. Much like in my own real life case, the local politicians refuse to admit he’s innocent even after DNA testing points towards someone else. In fact, there was so much about this show that mirrored my own life I began to wonder how much of my story had crept into the script.

  3. May 12, 2013 5:37 am

    The main character is a man named Daniel. When you look at his eyes, you’re looking into the eyes of a man who has seen Hell. There are moments when he looks like he’s about to begin screaming at any second, and never stop. The first time you see this is in episode one, when he’s about to leave the prison. The guard is treating him like a human being, and it’s evident this hasn’t happened in an extremely long time. You see the confusion on his face as he wrestles with suddenly being treated decently by the same people who have treated him like an animal for years. He can’t quite process it. I know that look well. As he’s about to leave the prison, the guard helps him tie his necktie, as he can no longer remember how to do it himself.

  4. May 12, 2013 5:37 am

    The writer of the show, Ray McKinnon, was somewhat familiar with my case. His late wife, Lisa Blount was a friend of mine. She and I exchanged letters while I was on death row in Arkansas, and she even sang at a concert in Arkansas, along with Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith, and Johnny Depp, to help raise awareness about my plight.I heard that McKinnon also did research into the cases of other men who had been on death row and had been released or exonerated. It paid off. I can tell you from first hand experience that Rectify is a very realistic show

  5. May 12, 2013 5:36 am


  6. Javier permalink
    January 26, 2013 10:34 pm

    Ohhh, it’s so much better than the same material from 1st Ed. Frankly, I never really understood the Chembu before, and now they really stand out to me as an interesting character concept to play! An alien with a hive mind? Sold! 🙂

    I’ve got a few questions for you, if you don’t mind:

    1) Can you give us a hint about who these two new hominid species are: the Viri and the Hydragand-Dezimeer?

    2) What is this Base Cost thing? I didn’t understand it since later in the write-up the Chembu have to choose one aspect among three, and it doesn’t make any reference to stunts either.

    3) How does the Planetary Intelligence communicate with the Chembu hominids? Is it a type of telepathy? Is it psionics? Is it techno-psi?

    By the way, I think you should consider putting an hyphen between “techno” and “psi”. I cannot help but spell it “tech-nop-si” every time I read it.

    I keep imagining these bio-ships like the giant cyber-turtle-lizard from the Avengers film! 😀

    Keep us posted, Sarah. And thanks for sharing!

    • January 26, 2013 11:14 pm

      As a follow-up comment, the planetary intelligence reminds me of a better conceptualized emergent intelligence as seen in the Avatar film. And that led me to the native animal forms able to synch and link themselves with the blue-skinned aliens. Just blurbing out ideas here, nevermind…

      Also, are you going to delve deeper into Venu culture? When I first read about the Venu, they stroke me as some mutant pastiche from the early 80’s, cross-pollinized with Warhammer 40k. I really like them as antagonist, but I’d like to get a better grasp on them before I introduce them in any chronicle. Do they have WH40k vibe as it was my early impression. Now I’m not so sure, though I still cannot pin them down, concept-wise.

  7. January 10, 2013 6:13 pm

    Here’s a tangential question, Sarah. Have you played Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri? 🙂

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