Tuesday, July 9, 2013

190: The Mirror of Earth

ENTRY 190: The Mirror of Earth

Luna. Weeks before the Fall. An artist called San Julian prepared a very special long-exposure photographic plate on the surface of Mars, the work of months of planning, calculation, and construction. A photograph the size of a football field—and it captured, in extraordinary detail, one full revolution of the Earth as it was. Captured there is humanity’s homeworld at the height of its civilization—not the darkened, burnt, and scarred face it shows today.

The significance of this achievement was not widely recognized given the more immediate concerns of the Fall. The Mirror was partially covered, and forgotten. The edges, which were thinner and most vulnerable to damage have partially cracked and fractured. Scroungers made off with whatever equipment was left, and may have broken up the whole plate for scrap silver if they hadn’t been discovered by Lunar explorers, out delving through forgotten outposts for a thrill. With re-discovery came recognition that this priceless record of Earth-that-was must be protected, and made available.

Today, the Mirror of Earth is regarded as something of a monument, carefully preserved within a special dome facility built over the vulnerable, fragile plate to keep it safe. Restoration artists work on the damaged boundaries, while high-quality digital scans of the Mirror have been archived on the Mesh, there for anyone to see, and if they are old enough to remember, where humanity came from…and where it might yet someday return.

Using The Mirror of Earth

At its most basic, The Mirror of Earth is a point of interest and nostalgia—a monument as distinct for Luna as the Statue of Liberty is for New York City, a public place where PCs and NPCs might meet, and a stage upon which to enact their struggles against a suitably awesome backdrop. On another level, The Mirror of Earth is a work of art, and like many works of art is probably not alone in its generation. The mysterious San Julian (who disappeared during the Fall, and may or may not be alive) may have done early, smaller models of The Mirror of Earth that remain to be discovered, and are worth a princely sum (if sold) or a considerable boost in rep (if donated to the public); likewise, San Julian might have gone on to attempt a similar Mirror of Mars waiting to be discovered. The Mirror itself may contain secrets of old pre-Fall Earth, unwittingly captured and kept in plain view.

Finally, and most importantly, The Mirror of Earth is potent to destroy. It is unique, and even the high-resolution digital copies cannot capture the full details of the analog technique that went into its manufacture. There is a real sense of loss that may come with the Mirror’s destruction, and the depth of its effect on NPCs may well affect the players as well. If you as the gamemaster are in need of a suitable target for a bit of supervillainy or terrorism, there are few as iconic and emotion-laden spots—but it is new to players, so you won’t disrupt anyone’s view of the setting if it suddenly goes kaboom.

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