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Feb 22, 2004
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Stardancers - A Federations AAR


A broad and ample road, whose dust is gold,
And pavement stars.

JOHN MILTON, Paradise Lost


'... In recent decades certain of our more intrepid traders have steered their ships away from the familiar comforts of home, be it the glittering interiors of Oros, the never silent refineries of Pirgak's Freehold or the electric whirring of Lastagarvin's Shelter. They have built their small stations across the asteroids and moonlets of our system and some at least have been brave enough, foolish enough or greedy enough to set foot on the planets.

The planets! Oh true enough there are fortunes to be won and I'll grant I'm Yldar enough to keep my curiosity, but our ancestors have lived too long among the stars to descend to filthy baubles of rock and dirt, where the weather is freezing or boiling and a law unto itself and the air is full of strange and deadly organisms.

Why and when we took to our habitats may be lost to memory but we did and have prospered ever since. We should not abandon our palaces in starlight for windswept shacks in the mud. We are the Yldars, sailors of the void and the beauty and wealth of space is ours...'

- An extract from Memoirs of a Guildsman by Jesslur, published in the year 2178.



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Hello all and welcome to my AAR! :)

It's been a long time since I wrote anything for Stellaris but I do have a lot of love for this game and I hoping I can both write a readable AAR and not fail horribly and embarrassingly in this play through. For this story I will playing the Yldar Free Traders. They will get a proper introduction in the next post, but I can at least say they are a Megacorp and as you might have guessed from the first post I picked the 'Void Dwellers' origin from Federations. It seemed like a really cool idea to play a species who have lived in their space habitats so long so much as setting a foot on a planet is weird and scary for them! Besides I really like the ship and habitat design for Humanoids in Stellaris so I wanted to play around with that.

Any way on with the show. The next update, and the introduction proper will introduce the Yldars and what makes them tick.
Oooh, a new @RossN AAR. I'm in!
That's quite an interesting opening, and set a nice tone. After reviewing your other AARs, I shall definitely subscribe.
A new @RossN AAR, and in Stellaris! Definitely following!
Getting on at the start
Introduction: The Yldars
Yldar Free Traders.jpg

Introduction: The Yldars


The Yldars are a humanoid species whose basic body plan and size betrays several similarities to Earth based humans. They have four limbs, two legs and two arms, the latter of which end in hands with five digits, four fingers and a thumb. They come in two biological sexes, are warm blooded and omnivorous and are at least ancestrally diurnal. Any hypothetical human meeting a Yldar would be amazed by how close in size and shape they were to his or her own species, and equally amazed and perhaps unsettled by their differences, especially if the human was unlucky enough to have ophidiophobia!

The Yldar are, bluntly 'snake people'. Their skin is covered with fine scales and though they can hear and see well enough their primary sense is smell, with the portion of the Yldar brain deputised with interpreting odours and scent more than ten times the size of the equivalent area in a human cranium. The average Yldar could easily rival a dog for his ability to track a man by scent or differentiate but the most subtle differences in similar vintages. This trait undoubtedly evolved from their ancestors as a means to hunt prey on their vanished homeworld; even today while Yldar can and do eat much plant matter they favour meat consumed whole and alive with ylirri (delicate rodent like creatures) considered a universal treat.

Unfortunately for the Yldars these specialised traits have their disadvantages. There are many reasons why Yldars feel uncomfortable outside of an artificial environment (see below) but one of the most important is the sheer overload of unfamiliar scents that bombard them when setting foot in an unfamiliar place. A forest, swamp, even a meadow would all present a olfactory cacophony for the average Yldar. They can master such disorientation - physically Yldars are as resilient as humans and proportionately stronger - but it is a distressing experience for all but the most experienced vagabonds.

Yldar males and females are similar in size and build, though differ in pitch of voice with males having a notably deeper sound (another eerie similarity for our hypothetical human to ponder.) The most striking differences between the sexes are colouration and ordour, though the second is only really apparent to a Yldar or other species with such a sharp sense of smell. Female Yldars have green (occasionally golden) eyes and silvery grey scales with green markings. Male Yldars are black scaled with purple (occasionally orange) eyes and purple or mauve markings. Both sexes apply comestic facial tattoos with males favouring lighter colouring and females darker.

Yldar females lay eggs, generally one at a time and Yldars at age at slightly faster than human rate. Reaching the age of eighty or above is rare but not unheard of.

Society & Culture

For thousands of years the Yldars have inhabited three giant space habitats in the Cevant system and this at least as much as their biology has shaped them. Each of the habitats collectively known as the Three Daughters - Oros, Pirgak's Freehold and Lastagarvin's Shelter - is a near-identical space station on a titanic scale, akin more to a small moon than 'merely' a city in space. Each habitat is a curious blend of the obviously artificial and the strangely 'planet' like, with countless corridors, rooms and machinery bays blending with vast domed gardens, farms and forests. Yldar lifestyle is certainly urban and living space is expensive but it is not unthinkable for a wealthy merchant prince to own something akin to an estate with a palace surrounded by vegetation and artificial streams all under dome and lit by the refracted starlight from one of the Cevant systems three suns.

There are notable differences in history and culture between the inhabitants of the Three Daughters and there is a lingering patriotism and rivalry to each but it would be fair to say there is a common Yldar culture. Yldar's tend to be clever and to have a strong sense of individualism and personal drive. Greed, when accompanied by ability, is considered part of a healthy drive at least when not taken out on one's fellows. By human standards many Yldar would also come across as rather vain; their is a strong cultural drive to show off one's success and thus ability and intellect to attract a mate or to impress one's peers. Tempering this very strong sense of self is an innate curiosity. Coming from a very stable, controlled environment Yldars are fascinated by the outer galaxy. They are aware much of it is hostile to their nature but the fascination remains. Though there have been no confirmed contact with alien life originating from beyond the Cevant system most Yldars passionately believe it exists and long to see it.

In terms of government the Yldar are currently (circa. 2200) ruled by the Yldar Free Traders, an oligarchy of wealthy startraders who elect a chairperson from among themselves. Merchants have long enjoyed a prestige in Yldar society and to a very real extent they are the glue that keeps three independent minded habitats from permanent war with each other (a valid concern - the Three Daughters have clashed numerous times over the centuries, twice erupting into outright war.) Even so the Free Traders rule with a light hand. Individually the different habitats jealously guard their differing histories and privileges and as long as trade continues to flow and smuggling and piracy is kept down the reigning Chairperson and their council is content to let them administer themselves.

Religion is not a major part of life for most Yldar and especially on Oros, the capital habitat most are agnostic. Nevertheless there are still numerous small faiths practiced in private or small groups throughout Yldar space and the oligarchs are more indifferent to religion to than antithetical to it.


Three hundred years before the invention of the hyperdrive the the Three Daughters first (?) made contact with each other via primitive spaceships. Indig, then a young space pilot of Oros and later an envoy to Lastagarvin's Shelter wrote down her impressions of the era and noted:

'All these generations we [of Oros] had known in our blood that the answers to our questions lay in those tiny glimpses of silver we could see through our viewing lenses. Surely they, whoever they were, could unravel the mystery of our history. It never occurred to us they would be looking back hoping likewise.'

Recorded history on Oros - generally though not universally believed to be the original habitat - stretches back some three thousand years. Beyond that period the habitat's records are either inaccessible or non-existent. Scientists on Oros have long theorised that the exploded remains of the rocky world Oros orbits are the original Yldar homeworld, destroyed in some cataclysm but the truth can never be proven. Whatever happened the Yldar on Oros - and the other habitats - were reduced to barbarism, only slowly and painfully rebuilding their socities and disovering or rediscovering technoloy. In this Oros had the edge. While both Pirgak's Freehold and Lastagarvin's Shelter had and have certain advantages Oros houses the fabled Arcane Replicator, a fantastic machine directly connected with the main reactor which can synthesize elements of almost anything given time. Even after three millenia the finest minds of the Yldars have not even come close to fully understanding the technology. It simply works.

The majority view among the Yldar is they are the descendants of a planetbound species who successfully retreated to space to avoid the imminent destruction of their planet. A minority view has always pointed to the Arcane Replicator and wondered whether the Yldar might come from somewhere else and have been transplanted to their current abodes by benign aliens, who had also built the habitats in question. This faith in benign and highly advanced 'Outsiders' is probably the largest single 'religion' amongst the Yldars and true believers staunchly hold that they are still out there waiting (more cynical Yldar usuaslly snort in contempt at this point in the conversation.)

Cevant System.jpg

The Cevant System.

Oooh, a new @RossN AAR. I'm in!

Welcome and thanks for the vote of confidence! :)

That's quite an interesting opening, and set a nice tone. After reviewing your other AARs, I shall definitely subscribe.

Thank you! :) While this will likely lean history bookish I do want to have some internal universe voices coming through.

A new @RossN AAR, and in Stellaris! Definitely following!

Thanks and great to have you! :D

Getting on at the start

Welcome and thanks! :)
Much and more mystery. :)
Glad to see you working on something new :) Of course I'll be following, as I always do.

Already we have the seeds sown for an intriguing story. The Arcane Replicator hints at something exceptional (perhaps even uncanny) in the Yldar's present state, alien intervention or no.

I do have to wonder what they and the Baviiri would think of one another were they ever to meet, incidentally.
As ever you set a marvellous vignette of this species and its situation
Always out and about Ross! Well, I'm glad I caught this early! No doubt with my now sporadic schedules I will likely fall behind in no due time, but hey, at least I won't need to read 20 pages in a first run this time! :p :cool:

Part One: Footsteps into the Void (2200 to 2002)
Science vessel.jpg

YSS Hempest the Fearless - the first hyperspace capable exploration vessel.

Part One: Footsteps into the Void

The Chairwoman of the Yldar Free Traders had a hologramatic map of the galaxy in her private offices. There floating about her desk was a delicate three dimensional purple blue swirl representing the causes, countless stars glimmering like carelessly tossed diamonds across a shimmersilk canvas. Bemalona was not a romantic and she considered herself beyond weak minded sentimentalism but it was hard not to get at least a little excited looking at that holo. Some day in the far future all those flickering twinkles of white and blue and red and yellow would be known, and it would start during her time in office.

Bemalona left her chair and glided over to the window - despite her newly exalted position she prided herself on keeping her frame trim. She was representing not (just) herself, but also her people as the first representative from Lastagarvin's Shelter to reach this post. Bemalona flicked her forked tongue out in an unconscious tic of amusement. She could still remember the look of disbelief on the representative from Oros as the votes came in. The male had barely qualified as sapient but he'd expected the post of Chairman to fall into his lap like spoiled fruit from a zynbar tree simply because he was of Oros. No, Belmona had been much more concerned about Governor Rhass, the sleek scaled male from Pirgak's Freehold who actually ran much of the internal administration of the system. Smooth and charming - like herself to be honest - but Belmona couldn't shake the feeling there was something darker there...

'Focus,' she whispered to herself. 'This is a great day, allow yourself to enjoy it.' She took a deep breath and turned her green eyes to the window. From here she could see much of the starboard side of the Oros habitat curving away like a silvery horizon. And there, perhaps a mile distant, her purple running lights shimmering was the YSS Hempest the Fearless. About to begin her maiden cruise of exploration.

Yes... Chairwoman Bemalona would have rolled her eyes had you accused her of sentiment, but a tiny part of her envied the brave crew of that ship and dangers and wonders they'd face.


Galaxy Map 2200.jpg

The known galaxy in 2200.

The invention of the hyperdrive at the very end of the Twenty Second Century [1] was an astonishing feat of engineering but even more amazing was the fact the Yldars managed to work together to achieve it. There were many brilliant minds among the Three Daughters but unfortunately competition was a far stronger Yldar trait than cooperation and secrecy was a classic virtue. Only a collective desire to actually experience the cosmos and much pressure and credits from the Chairman and the Board of Free Traders was enough to overpower a score of titantic egos and inspire a collective of scientists from every habitat to build a working engine. In some respects the hyperspace project of this era represented the first real show of political 'muscle' by the Free Traders, who hitherto had been content to react rather than act and only step in to enforce contracts and other disputes.

Yldar space flight was not new. For three centuries the Cevant system had been crisscrossed by ships of various degrees of sophistication from extremely primitive chemical rockets crewed by brave or criminally foolish astronauts to the mining freighters, trade ships and patrol vessels that were everywhere by the year 2200. Once it had taken years to travel from one habitat to another but that was whittled down to months, then weeks. In the middle of the Twenty Second Century the wealthiest merchant princes had begun to invest in luxurious 'star yachts' and from 2167 annual races around the system had become a popular and glamorous affair for the wealthy. Other successful free traders had preferred to pour their credits into private fleets of merchant vessels loyal to individuals, partners or trading dynasties. Below this gilded fraternity lay a vast collection of independent freighters and small time shipping and beneath them lay the criminals - the shipjackers, smugglers and outright pirates that seemed impossible to truly eradicate no matter how much the System Patrol tried.

What all these ships had in common was they were sublight. Even the fastest yacht or courier vessel could never reach another star system in any useful time frame. It was not until the test flight of Falatir the Wise in 2194 that that changed [2]. Falatir the Wise was no one's idea of a beautiful ship - she was little more than an engine with a cramped cockpit attached and if anything suggested the ancient chemical rockets of the dawn of spaceflight rather than her peers. To universal relief (and not a little surprise) she worked, moving from Pirgak's Freehold to Lastagarvin's Shelter in mere hours without scattering a hazy cloud of debris across the inner system or shattering the time barrier.

Successful as she was the experimental Falatir the Wise was never going to be a production vessel. Instead that honour went to a generation of advanced starships that had already been taking shape in the design labs. Between 2194 and 2200 the Free Traders financed and built five hyperspace capable ships, including three corvette warships, a specialised construction ship and most importantly a dedicated science vessel.

The YSS Hempest the Fearless was a marvel of sophistication. She was three hundred meters long, her external hull based on modified designs for the sublight Khaagul-class science ships thar plied the fringes of the Cevant system. While Hemset was slightly larger it was inside her hull that the differences mattered. She boasted the most advanced sensor equipment yet crafted, many internal labs, exploratory sensor pods, a dazzling communications system to keep in touch with home and space, amenities and stores for her crew of four hundred drawn from specialists from across the habitats. That crew represented another step forward for the Free Traders as a governing body. For generations there had been a government payroll and a System Patrol but suddenly the number of ships crew and officers, not to mention engineers and scientists ballooned into the newly consolidated Yldar Star Navy (YSN.) The crème de la crème of the private sector were attracted by juicy wages, the prospect of fame and fortune and the sincere desire to explore alien worlds. This did perhaps mean that a disproportionate proportion of new Star Navy personnel and crew of the
Hempest in particular were 'Outsiders' - passionate believers that the Yldars had been placed on their habitats by highly advanced and enigmatic aliens, something that would give the YSN a reputation as a bastion of dreamy eyed mystics in later years...

The official commander of the ship was not a veteran spacer but a scientist. Lathira was a forty three year old academic from Lastagarvin's Shelter who had published many impressive papers on the potential existence of alien life. A graceful silver scaled female with a keen intellect and excellent health she was the first choice for the post, having both the brains for her daunting assignment and sufficient social skills to deal with the crew that would be her constant companions for months, perhaps years.

On the evening before their departure the senior officers and scientists of the Hempest dined with Chairwoman Bemalona and the other members of the Board in the most exclusive public sector of Oros, a glittering plaza beneath a crystal dome providing a striking view of the purple-blue-white light from Cevant A. Clad in their silk finery the richest males and females in known space mingled with the pioneers. The air was laced with delicate scents, a live mynthra band played softly in the corner and the party wined and dined on the finest food and drink. None of it could match the electric thrill in the room. Fame and fortune!

The following day YSS Hempest the Fearless turned her prow to the galactic 'west', fired up her sublight drive and then after a glide into open space made her first true hyperspace 'jump'.

The first star system charted by Lathira and her crew was Roolan, based around a small and angry looking orange dwarf sun. Here on a moon of the second planet while studying a strange crater the Hempest discovered the first tantalising hint that non-Yldar intelligent life existed - or had once existed.

Ftl Impact.jpg

The conjectured remains of an alien starship on Roolan IIb.

Even as news was filtering back home and whole subsectors were being renamed in honour of Lathira and her companions the Free Traders had begun building a second science ship identical to the Hempest. This vessel was launched late in the year with designation YSS Mitgapp the Humble. While most of the crew were of similar background than their brothers and sisters on the earlier vessel the score of scientists aboard had slightly different talents. Whereas Lathira was primarily a biologist the her counterpart on the Mitgapp was an archaeologist named Ketrilla who had worked in researching artifacts from the dim past of the Yldar race. Her appointment to command the Mitgapp spoke volumes about the interest in finding not just alien life but intelligent alien life.

The Hempest's exploration of the Roolan system revealed so further signs of alien life primitive or advanced, though she did confirm that the planets and asteroids did yield a bounty of mineral wealth and energy sources that delighted the Board. The Cevant system was beginning to run low on untapped mines and the prospect of such resources so close was a tantalizing one. Meanwhile the Mitgapp had followed a hyperspace lane to the galactic 'south east'. While Ketrilla and her crew found some promising radiation readings coming from the white star Loisar that fascinated the physicists on the ship the archaeologist herself found something beyond her wildest dreams in the asteroid belt surrounding the star.

The Vulaum star assembly.jpg

The discovery of ancient artifacts of the 'Vultaum Star Assembly'.

The crash site the Hempest had found in the Roolan system merely suggested the existence of sapient star travelers. The tiny shards of scattered exotic metals surrounding the crater on Roolan IIb had been far too fragmentary to guess at anything other than a rough age. The finds in the Loisar system on the other hand were far more impressive, but posed at least as many questions as answers. The Vultaum were almost certainly extinct given the dating of the artifacts recovered - that so much had been preserved at all was perversely due to the inhospitable nature of the Loisar asteroid belt where archaic research stations and the boneless fossils of the Vultaum themselves had remained untouched by the elements for millions of years. The finds discovered by the Mitgapp would take years if not decades to process.

For most Yldars the proof of alien life was dizzying enough, even if there was some disappointment that it was seemingly gone. Several of the more far sighted Free Traders had already been drooling over the prospect of trading with exotic alien empires and when both Lathira and Ketrilla separately reported their initial thoughts that there was no sign of existing sapient life in near space the ambitious began to think in terms of collecting alien artifacts instead. Romanticism was fine in its way but credits were almost as good and many Yldars would pay small fortunes to own a genuine piece of xenotech. Seeing the way the solar wind was blowing Bemalona swiftly pushed through an order declaring everything recovered so far government property, sweetening the deal by promising the rapid opening up of the Roolan system for potentially very profitable mining concerns.

For the 'Outsiders' the swing of emotions was hard to balance. There was the first ecstasy among the true believers that their dreams of intelligent aliens in the cosmos had been proven right. Racing on its heels came the confusion and disappointment over the absence of modern life. The Vultaum had clearly been a very advanced species and some of the artifacts uncovered would continue to be a mystery but they had also (presumably) been gone for far longer than even the oldest estimates of the age of the Three Daughters, and as for the crash site, while more promising in age nothing could be told from the crumbling debris. Still the true believers were strong and confident in their faith and as the original rush of hysteria abated they adopted a wait and see attitude. The great and glorious civilisations were out there somewhere simply waiting for their proteges to find them.

By the beginning of 2202 both science expeditions had departed to explore new systems and work was ongoing to construct an outpost station orbiting Roolan. All eyes were tracking the progress of the Hempest and Mitgapp and no one could have imagined that alien contact was about to happen with the arrival of xenos in the Cevant system itself...

Yldar Space 2202.jpg

Yldar space, 2202.

[1] All years are calculated from the Oros Calender, which itself dates from a period of political unification. Technically each habitat has their own calendar but the influence of Oros has been very strong for two centuries and most now grudgingly agree to 'standard' time measurement.

[2] Falatir was a famous philosopher of the Ninth Century. Note the universal Yldar practice of naming ships and places after prestigious individuals.
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Welcome! :)

Much and more mystery. :)

Well, the early years of space exploration are very mysterious. :)

Glad to see you working on something new :) Of course I'll be following, as I always do.

Already we have the seeds sown for an intriguing story. The Arcane Replicator hints at something exceptional (perhaps even uncanny) in the Yldar's present state, alien intervention or no.

I do have to wonder what they and the Baviiri would think of one another were they ever to meet, incidentally.

Thanks. :)

That is a very interesting question! The Baviiri would probably be a little snobbish about the Yldars commericalism were wealth counts for more than birth (uh... hatching) but I think they have enough in common they could at least talk to each other. Both species are xenophiles too.

As ever you set a marvellous vignette of this species and its situation

Thank you very much. I admit I'm still getting into my groove but I'm having fun. :)

Always out and about Ross! Well, I'm glad I caught this early! No doubt with my now sporadic schedules I will likely fall behind in no due time, but hey, at least I won't need to read 20 pages in a first run this time! :p :cool:


Hah, glad to have you here and hope you enjoy this! :D
Another RossN Stellaris AAR?! Count me in! The new expansion is certainly rife with possibilities for storytelling (I'm having a lot of fun playing as the custodians of a ringworld), and you've captured the notion of a void-dwelling society perfectly.
These first steps into the Beyond are so full of promise ... and of everything else.
I like the way you've made the Yldar, their society, and their ambitions come to life. It's like a David Brin novel, which is great. :D
I think the Chairwoman can be forgiven for showing a little bit of sentiment -- after all, who wouldn't want to have the chance to venture out into the unknown for the pure, simple joy of discovery? (And profit, of course; can't forget that.)