by Ivan Sorensen
Welcome to transmissions from Unified Space.
In these transmissions you will find snippets of data, current events and psionic overflow usable in your games of Five Parsecs From Home.
600 billion people that all eat steamed Krasht for breakfast?
A galactic sized polity is vast. Extremely vast. So vast in fact that it is often difficult to accurately assess the actual size of the population. The Soulless probably have it easier as they can assess the number of run-times within the network but even they must account for disconnected units. For species that rely on more mundane methods of communication, any population figure can only be an estimate.
The Engineers are typically considered the least populous of the galactic powers and are estimated at nearly 50 billion individuals with the larger such as the K’Erin and humanity being estimated at 6-700 billion (the latter using a somewhat more conservative definition of human, if human derivatives and legally recognized human sub-types are included, the figure could be double). This may seem small for civilizations that encompass huge sectors of space, but many colony worlds are extremely thinly populated and technologically advanced populations tend to have low rates of reproduction.
Across a population of this size, virtually any combination of skills, motivations and inclinations can be found, with local conditions often being a larger influence than the origin of a given individual. Despite their reputations, there are pacifist K’Erin, nature loving Engineers and crass Precursors everywhere. Of course political entities also try to emphasize desirable cultural traits in their citizens with degrees of influence: Unity social engineering programs are vast and generally quite efficient, while the semi-psychic minds of the Precursors tend to form consensus beliefs quickly and across large populations.
Only the Soulless have an iron-clad central culture due to their network, but this culture is rooted in machine-pragmatism rather than cultural affectations. Soulless traveling among other cultures will adjust their personalities to smooth over any social challenges they may encounter.
Adventurers, freelancers and other outcasts are ironically more likely to exhibit the stereotypical reputation of their species: As most stereotypes relate to a field of proficiency, K’Erin adventurers that emphasize their martial prowess have a much easier time finding employment than ones that advertise a knack for L-Sat reactor realignment.
There is also a tendency for travelers far from home to embody the assumed traits of their home culture, occasionally to an exaggerated degree. No K’Erin is more likely to challenge you to an honor duel than a mercenary drifter who has not set foot on the home worlds for a decade.
Another factor is galactic commerce which often emphasizes species traits for the sake of marketability. As an example Precursor food is extremely varied ranging from complex dishes taking hours to prepare to “naturalistic” cuisines based on consuming raw animal matter. However, because the expectation of Precursor culture is a high level of ritualized refinement, almost every Precursor corporation selling food related goods will focus on high class items, often requiring elaborate preparations.
This in turn exerts social pressure on Precursor populations, allowing the stereotype to often become common culture.