ENTRY 222: The Painted Diamond
A clear cube eight centimeters on a side, created by layering thousands of microscopic sheets of artificial diamond one atop the other. Each sheet has been subject to selective irradiation, causing the normally clear diamond to take on color in specific shapes and places. Together, these discolorations form a 4 x 4 x 4 cubic array of sixty-four three-dimensional characters, evenly spaced apart. If a light source is shone through any of the cube’s faces, an image of sixteen characters is projected onto the opposite surface; each face yields a unique “page” of such text. Nanoscopic examination of the surface of the cube reveals scratches commensurate with extreme age, as well as a greenish-amber discoloration of one corner that suggests accidental exposure to a neutron bombardment. The object as a whole is slightly radioactive.
Using the Painted Diamond
There is a joy to discovery that is often lost on players in roleplaying games; with so much great material to draw from many players and gamemasters are content with having their characters visit within the mapped confines of the game setting, and rarely venture much beyond it. Yet there is something to be said for uncovering something new and unexpected that is very enriching to a game. The artifact described above is essentially a macguffin that a gamemaster can place in their game—anywhere, from embedded in the center of an asteroid or comet to some distant exoplanet, in a hypercorp lab or on the auction block at the local habitat, as an object of worship or as payment for a gig. It may be of transhuman or alien manufacture: humans have been manufacturing artificial diamonds for decades before the Fall and using radiation to purposefully “paint” diamonds by selectively discoloring them for some decades before that, yet the “stacking” technology of the multiple diamond layers is likely outside the known limits of transhuman manufacturing—at least, the publicly known limits—so perhaps it is the result of some advanced alien race.
This is, then, a prompt for players and gamemasters alike: who are the diamond painters that made this artifact? Where is it found, and in what circumstances? What do the symbols mean—do they form an actual text that can be translated, or a map? Perhaps the cube represents a set of six gate coordinates. The possibilities are endless, and the gamemaster is encouraged to listen as the players wonder out loud, and perhaps incorporate some of their ideas into the history and purpose of the cube. Whatever players and gamemasters come up with, the cube is likely to be worth a great deal for someone, and unlocking its secrets could be the subject of many adventures…or perhaps something unveiled a bit at a time, new cryptic hints revealed session by session as the PCs go about their other missions.
- A contact of the PCs who has been evaluating the markings on the cube believes that they form a gate code—one that no-one has ever visited before. Arranging the meeting, the PCs pass through the gate to find themselves in a cubic room, each face of which has sixteen cubic holes. Many of these depressions are empty, but that still leaves several dozen other diamond cubes like the ones the PCs own…the only question is, is this a trap set by the diamond painters, to lure gate-using races to a world they cannot escape from?