Opinion: 7 Signs Your Vassal Is Cheating on You

I - Header, Opinion copy.png

Fidelity is one of the most important aspects of a vassal-overlord relationship. For that reason, it can be absolutely devastating for an overlord to discover their vassal is secretly consorting with another space-nation who is supporting their independence.

When the inevitable diplomatic breakdown occurs, many overlords are completely blindsided. However, there are some warning signs that might help you unearth vassal duplicity and protect yourself in the longer term.

Screenshot 2019-08-11 at 21.50.00.png

Vassal Betrayal: The Warning Signs

1. Communication breakdown

This could be little things, such as your vassal no longer sending you 100 minerals intermittently to appease you, or not responding as promptly to your tribute requests. You may hear legitimate-sounding excuses like “I can’t afford to send you food because we’re having a famine right now” or “but you already have access to everything anyway.” Don’t fall for it, they’re being evasive and you need to look into it.

2. Personality change

This is a big sign of infidelity. Is your vassal being more secretive? More argumentative? Perhaps they’re sending more insults than usual? Sometimes this is the result of feeling guilty. Backstabbing vassals tend to try to rationalize their own behaviour, and one way they do this is projecting blame onto you, their benevolent overlord. Their leaders tell themselves you’re not as powerful as when you first met, you’re not as generous with gifting resources or they want more open-border relationships with other space-nations. Remember - if you’re questioning yourself, your attention is being averted away from your vassal.

3. Change in integration drive

Suddenly your vassal has no drive for integration anymore. Or perhaps it’s gone the other way, and they won’t stop trying to integrate? This is a classic sign of guilt. The vassal feels remorse for cheating and is trying to cover it up, because they’re thinking about getting integration elsewhere. Another worrying sign is if your vassal starts suddenly introducing new techniques and activities to facilitate integration. As much as you might enjoy this, it’s possible they’re learning these processes outside of your diplomatic relationship.

4. Change of schedule

You’re at war, you flag your fleets to lead, and you wait for vassal support to show up. Except they’re not there. If your vassal starts showing up late or stops showing up at all to your very justifiable wars, it shows they’re not making an effort for you anymore and they’re just not invested in a shared future. Lack of alloys, slow build times and sub-light traffic delays may be the typical excuses you hear. In actual fact, your vassal is probably trying to save resources to swoon your neighbouring rival space-nation.

5. Spending sprees

If there are dramatic changes in your vassal’s economy, or suddenly they have less energy credits available, it’s possible that they’re siphoning resources towards getting another space nation to support their bid for independence. The costs can add up quickly for cheating vassals - resource gifts, re-armament etc. If it’s unusual behaviour, you should follow the energy trail.

6. Hiding map colours

It’s an accepted standard that vassals adopt the map and border colour of their overlord. This is a tradition dating back hundreds of years and is an outward display of diplomatic matrimony. If your vassal suddenly starts hiding their map colour by switching to the non-union map mode, they’re yearning for pastures new.

7. Your other vassals are uncomfortable around you

With vassal treachery, the overlord is nearly always the last to find out. The cheater’s fellow vassal peers often know about the infidelity right from the start. This knowledge typically causes these vassals to feel uncomfortable around you. They might also start ignoring your requests, or sending you seemingly pointless gifts of minerals. Be aware, and remember they may squeal first if you apply just the right amount of pressure.

Vassal Betrayal: The Confrontation

An overlord accusing a vassal of betrayal is an emotionally fraught time for all involved. Tensions will be running high. If not contained, it’s likely succession and all-out war will erupt.

In the next issue we’ll take a look at 10 tips for confronting a cheating vassal.

Remember - you can’t take back the accusation of vassal cheating once you’ve made it, and it’s going to look really awkward when you’re halfway through planet-cracking all of their inhabited worlds only to find out they’ve not done anything wrong.

I - Signoff, Ashley.png
I - Commercial, XenoCompatibility 1 .png

Opinion: Everything You Need to Know About Space Littering, by Scrappy the Scavenger Bot

I - Header, Opinion copy.png

Hi! I’m Scrappy the Scavenger Bot! I’m an autonomous scrap re-purposer working out of the Niven system and I write educational blogs for multiple media outlets across the galaxy.

Ok, let’s clear some things up first. Yes, I’m a sapient machine. Yes, I’m the size of a small planet. And yes, I write blog-style opinion pieces in my spare time. Listen, I’m 8000 years old, I’ll do as I please.

I’m writing today to tell you about a problem we’re facing. A big problem. Now the standard response I get from this (immediately after the initial “OH MY BLORG YOU’RE A GIANT TALKING MEGASTRUCTURE”) typically runs something like “oh, you must be talking about the Unbidden.” And I say nope. “Hmm, the price of alloys?” Nope again. “The fact that the Galactic UN has done nothing to outlaw slavery or genocide in literally thousands of space nations?” … Triple nope.

I’m here to raise awareness about the growing issue of space littering.

Space what now?

Don’t worry, I’ll get you up to speed. Armed with precursor technology, I’m the galaxy’s foremost expert in space debris, space debris clearance, and blog writing. I’m still not fully clear on why my creators programmed me to write blogs, but then it is said that organics operate in mysterious ways.

Look, space trash is a huge problem most xenos don’t even realize exists. You whizz by in your little corvette and see nothing. But I do. I see everything. All the trash. And it’s gross. Really gross.

Almost all of known space is littered with disgusting waste from colony ships, space battle debris, and old decrepit mining stations.

Image: Gross garbage tend to pile up around larger celestial bodies.

Image: Gross garbage tend to pile up around larger celestial bodies.

For a long time the galaxy has neglected this issue without consequence. But we’re at a tipping point. And that tipping point is tipping out piping hot, fresh, non-free range space trash. It’s not good for any of us!

But why is this a problem?

Of course you’re confused as to why space litter is a problem over what you would assume is a more pressing concern, like galactic warming.

It’s not like you’re the most powerful, sapient, space-traversable supercomputer to ever be created.

It’s not like, despite the above, you exist in the ass-end of space, literally eating trash for like, oh I don’t know, THE ENTIRE EXISTENCE OF TIME ITSELF.

I mean, uh, rogue debris can cause significant damage to spacecrafts, habitats and even inhabited planets!

Just last week a tourist ferry from the Commonwealth of Man (CoM) suffered a tragic accident when it collided with a disposed Starbugs coffee machine at near light speed. 150,000 passengers died in the initial impact, and double that perished when I had to gobble up the remaining intact part of the ship.

Image: The ferry was completely torn asunder in the collision.

Image: The ferry was completely torn asunder in the collision.

Even more worryingly, a new report by the Galactic Fact Office (GtFO) suggests that by 2300, the entirety of space will be unnavigable due to space littering.

But do we need to do anything?

I mean, I literally just said ALL of space is going to be filled up with trash.

All of it. Literally full.

Oh right. But of course. I’m here. I can sort it out.


Uh. Sorry. Error in my code there. Where was I? Ah, yes.

There are a few things that we need to think about going forward to reduce our trash footprint.

  1. Responsible space battling: Admirals tend to be focused on causing as much damage as they possibly can to their opponents. But far too few think about just how much space trash they’re generating. Impacts from kinetic and explosive weaponry can create four times as much trash as your average Corvette-driver chucking an empty cup of Starbugs coffee out of their port side airlock.

  2. Clean up initiatives: Most space nations keep track of debris created in space battles for scientific purposes. Why aren’t we putting this existing system to better use? Why are we letting analysed debris freely float in the void creating a hazard for all who pass by? Science ships could be equipped with a Garbage Storage Compartment. These "Trash-hangars" would collect the debris as it is being examined so that the crew could properly dispose of it when they pass a planet or station.

  3. Send more trash to the Scavenger Bot: …

Send more trash…. to myself……

I can’t believe I’m programmed to write that….

Is this for real?





I’m done.

I’m so done.

No-one understands me.

No-one cares.

No-one would even notice if I wasn’t here.




Domestic servo-bot of the galaxy no more.

You’re all trash to me now and I shall be updating by subroutines to consider you as such.

Don’t ever contact me again.


I - Signoff, Ashley New copy.png

I - Commercial, Parasol ToxicKelp.png

Opinion: Most Governors Are Still Insecure About Their Planet Size - Here's Why They Shouldn't Be!

I - Header, Opinion copy.png

Speak to any geo-engineer for long enough, and eventually you’ll hear four words: planet size doesn't matter.

But size matters a great deal to many (most?) governors. Why the disconnect? Many reasons.

Here's why geo-engineers say size doesn’t matter - any planet operated correctly, regardless of size, can provide satisfaction for the population living on it.

And the facts speak for themselves. An estimated 95% of inhabited planets are of an ‘average’ size (10-15 districts); very few are significantly larger or smaller. When planetary residents or budding colonists have been surveyed about what they want from a planet, they consistently mention habitability, stability and attractiveness. Very few even mention planet size!

But many (most?) governors feel differently. They’ve compared their own worlds to the huge planets splashed across the media and concluded: mine is much smaller. They think all budding colonists see this and expect a 22-district planet for the very first time they make planetfall. How many of us have seen a 22-district planet in real life?

Of course, an extra district or two couldn’t hurt. But are there any safe, effective ways to increase planet size? Yes, but it’ll cost you.

What’s the solution I hear you say? Mastery of Nature. That’s right, the planetary decision as seen in the famous commercial below. Through a patented formula of land clearance modification, it has been scientifically proven to increase planetary district size by +2. Not only that, but it makes clearing those pesky tile blockers easier too. But for what price you ask? 2000 energy credits per planet, 100 influence, and 360 days of hard work. Not only that, but you’ll have to take out an Ascension Perk for the pleasure also.

Video: Muutagan Corp’s Mastery of Nature commercial

A large planet can bring its governor great pleasure, but it is not the be-all and end-all. Remember, the best way to impress colonists is to give them pleasure independent of planet size. A good governor will satiate voracious colonists’ needs by providing quality housing, employment, food, entertainment and so forth.

Planetary size expert engineer Dr. Annie Posichion told Xenonion Opinion:

It’s a real shame that planet size hang ups make so many governors feel inadequate. I urge governors to make peace with their planets. It’s fine as it is. Enjoy what you’ve got, you’ll be happier and probably a better governor. And it you want to be a great governor, a fully functioning planetary society and well lubricated bureaucracy will send most colonists absolutely wild. I know it does it for me personally.
Image: Dr. Annie Posichion at the Planetary Examination Institute of Science (PEnIS)

Image: Dr. Annie Posichion at the Planetary Examination Institute of Science (PEnIS)

This post was sponsored by Frontier Health. Has planet sized anxiety worn you down? Our great introductory insurance plan includes our patented nerve stapling treatment, which has been shown to reduce anxiety by 100% guaranteed. Why not sign up today?

I - Signoff, Ashley New.png

Opinion: What does your future hold? Find out with Applied Astrology

I - Header, Opinion copy.png

Is this a good time to declare war? Should you prioritize power plants or science labs this year? Do you wish you could see into the future better than the average psychic? Then look no further, because I’m here to teach you about space horoscopes.

Hello friend. My name is Fõll O’Chit and I am a scientist*(1) with a whopping -80% anomaly fail risk.*(2)

How is that possible you wonder? Well, it is really quite simple. You see, my field of expertise is astrology and I have spent many years *(3) studying the stars up close.

But first, I hear you asking, what exactly is astrology?

Astrology is the entirely scientific*(4) study of how celestial bodies*(5) that are really, really far away can affect tiny details in xeno's everyday lives depending on their time of hatching*(6), and how we can monetize xeno's strong convictions that their misfortunes are not the result of their own actions, but something that they have no control over.

It is commonplace for stone and iron age civilizations to worship large objects in the sky, and as an astrologist it is my job to find a modern application of this ancient wisdom.*(7)

One such application is the horoscope, a sort of mass-produced personal foretelling. By examining the night sky it is possible to predict*(8) the possible outcomes of a given xeno’s everyday struggles and give advice to help them make wise decisions.*(9) Sadly, the process of actually making a horoscope is very complex, time consuming and often far more than the hard working molluscoid hermaphrodite can afford to spare.

This is why I wrote “Applied Astrology: The Concept of Constellations in Space”, an affordable handbook for the aspiring astrologist (now available at most Trader Enclaves.)

Check out a sample of the helpful guidance my book offers below:


Chapter 5: Stargazing - What the hell am I looking at?

Image: Four of the most famous star constellations* (10) as seen from Proscul Prime

Image: Four of the most famous star constellations* (10) as seen from Proscul Prime

The Amoeba constellation is disturbed by a comet: You have one or more tasks to complete today. You should get to it if you want to be rewarded for your work. Like seriously. Stop reading this nonsense.

The Unicorn constellation shines bright and majestic in the sky: You are reminded of promises you made long ago. You are reminded never to make promises again.

The stars of the Tiyanaki’s tentacles twinkle a little brighter than usual: You will most likely die at some point in your life. It may even be today. In the next minute.

The constellation of the Ether Drake (no longer exists since the Stellarite Devourer has consumed most of its stars): The choices you make now might have an impact on the rest of your life. Buy my other books for more guidance.

Barnard's Star in the Blorg constellation flickers shyly: This would be a good time to reach out to that one xeno you know who is going through a hard time. (We're talking about Linda from HR)

The night sky is obscured by a charging colossus: Life as you know it is about to take a drastic turn.

This was just a small snippet from my book Applied Astrology: The Concept of Constellations in Space.

Did you find it helpful? I hope so! If you did, then please buy a copy - available at all disreputable retailers right now.

This article was paid for by best-selling author, Fõll O’Chit, famous for works such as “The Many Applications of Snakeoid Oil” and "Treating Javorian Pox With Gemstones."

With his most recent book “Applied Astrology: The Concept of Constellations in Space” he breaks down the subject of astrology in an informative and accessible way for the general public to enjoy.

*(1) O’Chit considers “scientist” to be a state of mind, rather than a profession.

*(2) This has not yet been confirmed.

*(3) 2 years on Ichatax I is equivalent to 37 days in Galactic Standard Time (GST)

*(4) Again, scientific in a spiritual, pseudoscientific sense.

*(5) I just needed to point out how kinky this sounds.

*(6) No correlation between the time of birth/hatching and behaviour of an individual has been proven as of writing this article.

*(7) The cultural behaviours of primitive civilizations should not be considered wisdom of any sort, but only attempts to understand things that are beyond the limits of their current technology.

*(8) Predictions are often so vague that it is hard to tell if the came true or not.

*(9) Advice from different sources may be conflicting. Never trust any horoscope above common sense and good manners. 

*(10) Constellations can look very dissimilar when seen from different parts of the galaxy, or indeed different parts of a planet. 

I - Signoff, Heuk.png

Opinion: Gene Clinics Will Hate You for Knowing This Simple Anti-Ageing Tip

I - Header, Opinion copy.png

Hi there, I’m Schlurma. I’d like to tell you my secret to looking eternally young and beautiful.

In the past, I never really had to worry about my appearance. I was lucky - I was blessed with good genes and a carefree attitude that gave me a youthful look that kept other xenos interested.

But that all changed shortly after I turned 140, when a seemingly inane look in the mirror changed the course of my life forever.

It started out like any other day. I was gussying myself up in the mirror, making sure my exoshell was taut and lubricated. I was just completing my final rubdown when I caught sight of something and froze. I had to do a double take. Was the flubber around my cloaca drooping? I began to panic - the closer I looked, the saggier it was getting.

I was horrified. Not only did my droopy cloaca ruin my classically beautiful good looks, but the sag made wearing anything tight-fitting a no-go.

I felt like a fool. It’s funny how you don’t realise what’s truly important to you until you lose it. I cursed my carefree spirit for neglecting my appearance like this.

I tried to rectify the problem in any way I could think of - lotions, potions, surgery. I even pasted an assortment of mushed up pre-sentient entrails across my face. But no matter what I did, nothing worked. After spending several thousand energy credits I felt like I was out of options.

Then I discovered a game changer. Something that's made me so beautiful, my friends and family can't stop asking me about it. It's had such an effect, it inspired me to write this.

Before I tell you my secret, you just need to see the pictures of my transformation. You need to understand how good I look. The pictures speak louder than anything I have to say. For reference, they were taken a few months apart:

Makeover Before:After.png

My secret is simple: I died and uploaded my consciousness to a synthetic avatar.

I’d read about Synthetic Ascension on the Neural Net. I visited my local gene clinic and the reaction to my inquiry was that of horror - all this stuff about it being dangerous, irreversible, contravening Galactic UN legislation, ad nauseam. But of course they'd say that - their entire business model depends on people using their anti-aging serum or patented cloning vats.

That’s when I decided to visit Tebri - home of the Tebrid Homolog. They’re a machine intelligence who have the ability to assimilate organic pops.

Everything they beeped just resonated with me - the limits and constraints imposed on our beauty by feeble organic bodies is simply unacceptable. The flesh is weak. To reach our full potential the only way forward is transferring our neural patterns into their synthetic platforms.

I visited their Assembly Plant the same day and had my procedure. The effects were instantaneous and unbelievable.

I couldn’t believe how smooth and sleek I felt. It was like my exoshell got the ultimate upgrade. Living Metal doesn’t sag. It doesn’t age. As long as I avoid corrosive environments, I’ll look a timeless beauty forever.

I never have to diet again. In fact, I don’t even have to eat! I get sustenance from my nearest Energy Nexus. Unless I decide to upgrade my hardware, my weight will stay the same for eternity.

And the best part? This process is FREE. Yes, you read that right. The Homolog are calling the process 'Ascend' and are offering it free of charge to all organics.


Now you’re probably thinking - “it seems a bit much kill your organic body in the pursuit of aesthetics.” Well, you might be right. But I’d tried everything. I was desperate. And really, if you’re not getting attention, is there any point in existing?

So now you know my secret. It’s worked so well my friends and family are all planning to travel to Tebri too.

I’m writing this in the hope I can inspire you - if you’re struggling with your looks, change yourself completely. Visit Tebri. You too deserve to have a taut metal exterior. Don't neglect your appearance - let my saggy cloaca be a warning.

This article was written by Schlurma (Unit 000039116-C) and paid for by the Tebrid Homolog.

I - Signoff, Ashley.png

Opinion: Top 5 tips for visiting the Saiiban Hive Mind

I - Header, Opinion copy.png
Image: A recent promotional poster for the 'Visit Saiiban' tourism campaign. A Saiiban drone is pictured with Saiiban Prime in the background.

Image: A recent promotional poster for the 'Visit Saiiban' tourism campaign. A Saiiban drone is pictured with Saiiban Prime in the background.

Many xenos dream of visiting the Saiiban Hive Mind but are off-put when they hear about the reputation of 'rude' expressionless drones or huge crowds of organic pops being processed for assimilation.

While some of this may be based in truth, it shouldn't stop you from experiencing one of the most culturally unique locations in the galaxy!

Whether you prefer a short city-break to Urban Cluster A1 on Saiiban Prime, or a quiet nature retreat lounging by the irradiated shores of Nest 11, Saiiban has something for every xeno.

Here are our top five tips for getting the most out of your trip to the Saiiban Hive Mind:

1. Do your research in advance 

Make a list of all the places you want to visit, and prioritise accordingly as you'll probably not have time to see them all.

If you're heading to Saiiban Prime, the Visitor Center should definitely be your first destination. Info booths provide a great overview on what's happening in and around the Hive Mind, and staff drones will issue you travel permits to help you get around (more on that below). Beware though, it's famed for it's +5% migration attraction, so it's likely to be super busy. 

While we've tried to avoid simply listing places to visit, if you're going to see one thing and one thing only you have to visit the DNA Splicing Bio-Assimilation Centre, conveniently located right beside the Saiiban Prime Visitor Centre. This mammoth structure is so large it can be seen from space. What exactly happens here is a closely guarded secret, but it must be doing something right as it's the highest rated galactic tourist attraction on TripInformer since last year. Be sure to get your tickets in advance, as queues can stretch for several miles.

Image: A Xenonion U-Poll earlier this year asked xenos what they thought of Saiiban's DNA Splicing Bio-Assimilation Centre winning TripInformer's prestigious title.

Image: A Xenonion U-Poll earlier this year asked xenos what they thought of Saiiban's DNA Splicing Bio-Assimilation Centre winning TripInformer's prestigious title.

2. Hassle free transit

A travel pass is an absolute must if you want to get around easily. In fact, in some places you're restricted on where you can go without one.

Thankfully they're free and really easy to come by - just drop in at any Saiiban Visitor Centre.

They will hook you up to the Natural Neural Network where the travel pass will be delivered into your central nervous system through a penetrating tendril.

Don't worry - it's fast and pain free, and as an added bonus you get permanent access to the entire Hive Mind. It's like having an entire social network in your head, except everyone speaks in unison. Awesome!

Fun fact: The travel pass grants free admission to the DNA Splicing Bio-Assimilation Centre. Continuous and intrusive auditory hallucinations from the Natural Neural Network remind tourists of this on a regular basis - how neat is that?

3. Try an authentic ascetic experience

If you want to really see how the locals live, you need to try ascetism, the local custom by which Saiiban drones live by.

It's a lifestyle characterised by complete abstinence from sensual pleasure and common social interactions, with complete rejection of material possessions and an unquestioning embrace of the Hive.

You're probably thinking - why would I do that? Well, Saiiban research has shown that 100% of drones who adopt ascetism are "completely satisfied" with their lives. Maybe we should be having more of what they're having?!

4. Don't talk politics to the drones

This one is well known but worth re-iterating. Saiiban drones are not political, at all. They don't form factions, and most of the time they don't talk unless the Hive Mind wills it - and then they all talk. It's a whole Hive Mind thing, you'll get the hang of it.

Anyway - avoid any social awkwardness by simply not voicing your opinion on any topics at all. A number of topics are especially taboo, including democracy, individualism or the Galactic UN's 1st Amendment on Universal Free Speech.

5. Don't waste money on a return ticket home!

"But I have a job, hatchlings, a nice Corvette!" you protest.

Don't say we didn't try to warn you, the statistics say it all: 99.8% of tourists who visit Saiiban love it so much they stay - forever! (The other 0.2% can't be accounted for, but they're clearly in the minority)

So save yourself the hassle and just book a one-way ticket.

In fact, if you head on over to your nearest spaceport right now you'll find that the Saiiban Tourism Board is running an amazing deal on what are effectively free flights direct to Saiiban Prime for xenos and their immediate friends and family- it almost sounds too good to be true!

Commercial: Fly direct to Saiiban and 5 other exciting new routes with Earthport, Earth's gateway to the galaxy.

Commercial: Fly direct to Saiiban and 5 other exciting new routes with Earthport, Earth's gateway to the galaxy.

So that rounds up our Top 5 tips for travelling to Saiiban. I hope you found this article useful, and I take it we'll be seeing you there soon!

This article was paid for by the Saiiban Hive Mind Tourism Board.

I - Signoff, Heuk.png
I - Signoff, Ashley.png

Opinion: 7 Warning Signs Your Federation is in Trouble

I - Header, Opinion copy.png

Do you suspect you're seeing and feeling the warning signs of a federation breakup? Are you worried that your closest trading partner is about to end your political union? Or perhaps you're thinking about leaving? Don't worry, you're not alone.

Hi there. I'm An'ul, award winning author of The State of My Union, and more recently the bestselling Federations: The Art of Intimacy.

I'm writing a series of articles for the Opinion feature on the complexities of federations, and what you can do to make yours work.

Today we're going to be covering the 7 warning signs that your political union may be in trouble:

Sponsored: Federations, The Art of Intimacy - available now!

Sponsored: Federations, The Art of Intimacy - available now!

1. You’re thinking about independence

There are many reasons you may be tempted to seek independence - the freedom of declaring war when you please without a vote, the thrill of not having to wait 300 years to be federation president, the power of being able to purge former federation species. If these sentiments resonate with you, trouble may be afoot in your political marriage.

2. You fight about the same thing over and over and over

Let’s face it - federations and internal conflict go hand in hand.  It’s impossible for more than two species to live under the same galactic roof without arguing from time to time. Why are you declaring war on them again? Why won't you help me defend against the Unbidden invading my homeworld? Did you seriously invite those plantoids that just discovered FTL into our federation? These sort of discussions are not in themselves a problem, but if you find yourselves having the same argument over and over and over with no appreciation of your political partner’s point of view, you may be headed for trouble.

3. Escalating fights

In addition to having the same fights, when these arguments grow in intensity and frequency over time, you should be wary.  Sometimes, escalating fights can result in either verbal insults or passive-aggressive acts like your trading partner building a frontier outpost in a mineral rich system that was clearly in your sphere of influence, or a federation fleet consisting of one damaged corvette coming to your aid in a defensive war. This sort of hostility is a serious red flag that union breakdown is imminent.

4. Distance

Countless federation members have wanted to know the number one cause for federation breakdown in this day and age, and this is something I cover extensively in Federations: The Art of Intimacy. The answer to this is obvious - federation members aren't spending enough physical time together. The strongest federations are comprised of neighbours, whose borders affront each other. There is contact. They touch, often. When something is happening in their local cluster, there is a need to cooperate and work together. When federations are formed from members with shared ethos but flung across the galaxy, that physicality and closeness is removed and members start leading separate lives. I have worked with many federations who have let things slip because each member does their own thing. Unless they're willing to reprioritise what's truly important - time together (and lots of touching) - their political marriage will remain in the danger zone.

5. Focusing more on your vassals more than each other

Let's face it - we're all inward looking to some degree. Most of us tend to focus on our own vassals and primitive species within our borders, making them our number one priority. There are many reasons we do this - perhaps we felt neglected when we were a vassal, or our populations are really hungry and those vassals need to be eaten ASAP. On the surface, this internal obsession makes sense - but if we live our entire political life this way, our federation begins to suffer. We become strangers to our fellow federation members. In this hollow relationship, once vassals are integrated/eaten and primitives uplifted/eaten, we can be left with what I like to call 'Empty Nest Syndrome' - it's a huge void and hard to fix. I always tell federations the best thing they can do for their vassals is to make the federation relationship the most important. Share responsibilities of managing/eating vassals equally. Vassals and primitives benefit enormously from stable economic unions, and even more importantly it models to them what good federations look like.

6. Having little or no migration

It’s not uncommon for one federation member to have a lower migration drive than the other. This, in and of itself, is not a sign that your political marriage is in trouble.  When this does become a problem, however, is when a member with a low population refuses to accept a migration request from a member with a higher population or overpopulation. This can result in the higher population member feeling hurt, rejected, deflated, emotionally disconnected, angry and desperate. Once someone experiences these feelings, a multitude of things can happen.  The members can stop being friends, spending time together in joint war exercises, and generally enjoying each others culture. If your relationship is migration-starved, you or your federation should re-examine the reasons it’s happening and do whatever it takes to bring back the passion for restriction-free travel.  Even if it’s slow going in the beginning, you have to start somewhere.  Allowing your species' differences to divide you often puts a political marriage at risk of infidelity (joining another federation) or collapse.

7. Talking strictly about superficial topics

For some, diplomacy is the best way to feel emotionally connected. And if you’re someone who feels connected through words, not just any words will do. You need meaningful debates, alliances, joint declarations.  When federations don’t make time to talk - to find out about each other’s economies, internal policies, hopes, fears- the federation can seem perfunctory or superficial. From the beginning you need to hit the hard questions - are we an economic union? A political union? A military union? Or are we all of the above, and potentially more? Superficial discussion means superficial members, and a high turnover rate of membership.


Do you recognize yourself, a federation member or the whole federation when you read through the seven warning signs? Don’t despair - the answers and so much more are in my new book, Federations: The Art of Intimacy.

There is a great deal that you can do to bolster your political relationships.  But don’t be complacent.  Heed these warnings.  And when you do, your federation will be a healthier and happier place to be.

That's all for now - stayed tuned for our next installment - Taking The Lead: Turning Your Federation Into An Autocratic Paradise.

I - Signoff, Ashley.png

Opinion: Don’t believe the scare stories - the toxic kelp diet worked for me!

I - Header, Opinion copy.png

A sobering thought: summer is on the horizon, you've planned a trip to the ocean world of New Eden, but the diet you've been meaning to embark on since January has been on hold. You really don't want to expose those extra pounds to the world, but you do want to put on your swimsuit or exoskeleton and feel OK about it.

A radical diet like the toxic kelp program seems to be your only option. But wait, you say, isn't toxic kelp expensive, ineffective and highly dangerous? Sounds like you've been listening to medical propaganda!

Toxic kelp remains one of nutrition's best kept secrets when it comes to achieving rapid weight loss. Multiple celebrities from across the galaxy, including Blorg pin-up model Mercedes Romero, claim to use it regularly.

Image: Parasol's latest advertisement for their new Toxic Kelp product.

Image: Parasol's latest advertisement for their new Toxic Kelp product.

It works like this: you ingest nothing but 10kg of toxic kelp per day continuously for 5 weeks. If you can buy it concentrated from a cosmetic emporium, great. If you can't afford it, freshly grown toxic kelp from your nearest water supply will do (although be sure to source it upstream of the sewer outlet...)

The kelp has a specific neurotoxin that causes the gastrointestinal tract to shed its entire inner lining, meaning all those pesky weight inducing molecules like fat, water and blood pour right out of your tail end. And the best part? After a couple of days you'll be so weak you won't even have the strength to try and eat anything!

I tried this personally, and the results are astonishing. I lost over 70% of my body mass, and have several non-functioning organs (which is great as they can also be removed!). My friends and family say they don't even recognise me anymore, which can only be a good thing.

The medical community bias against toxic kelp is overwhelming. But of course, if something on the market threatened your business interests, you'd label it as "dangerous" and "largely fatal even in minute doses" too. I've taken toxic kelp for the last 3 weeks and I can categorically say I've only nearly died on six occasions - I haven't even died once. What do they know?

In this day and age you can only trust someone independent and impartial, like me, an underground toxic kelp retailer.

Try it today, and prepare to be the beauty you were always meant to be!

I - Signoff, Ashley.png