Explore and Exploit — Year 1: Race to Space!


Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0000.3

This is Ancillary Knower Unit 89J-Beta — or as Dubtaks call me, the “Great Gizmo.” A short introduction: I’m a highly advanced A.I., unfortunately relegated to recording log entries for my profoundly lazy “master,” the Grand Appropriator. The Appropriator stole me from my original owners, a visiting offworld species, one year and fourteen days ago when they attempted to make peaceful first contact with the Dubtaks in their quiet little corner of the galaxy…


The Dubtaks are obsessed with technology — especially stolen technology. One Dubtak steals from another. One tribe steals from another tribe. Heck, they probably rose to be the dominant lifeform on this planet by stealing sharp sticks, fire, and the wheel from whatever now-extinct species thought of them first.

“This planet” being a little backwater called Amoroso II, the second in a two-planet star system… out here in the middle of nowhere.


Stealing me from my previous owners brought quite a lot of fame and fortune to the Grand Appropriator (a title he gained thereafter). Not to mention wildly accelerating the Dubtak space program, which they seem to want to use to meet other species and steal even more gadgets for themselves.

Which brings me to the purpose of this log: to keep a record of the Launch Program and subsequent interstellar acquisitions efforts, as per the instructions of the High Board of Executives. Our builders have just broken ground on the Launch Headquarters, from which we plan on putting construction teams into orbit within the half-year to begin construction on an orbital shipyard. The goal is to leave the Dubtak homeworld, first colonizing the neighboring planet, and then moving on to other systems.

The first order of business is building an agriplot to support our workforce. This agriplot will be completed in 30 days, allowing for an influx of new workers at the site.


I’ll return then for an update on our progress.

This has been Auxiliary Knower, Office of the Grand Appropriator — signing off.

portrait_gizmoWell? What do you think?

portrait_dubtaksYou keep using that word “steal,” Gizmo. Dubtaks don’t steal; we acquire through a completely legally-sanctioned process called Finding and Keeping. How many times do I have to tell you this? Also, did you call me “profoundly lazy” in an official Launch Program log?

portrait_gizmoYou’ve got the most advanced computer system your species has ever encountered writing your diary for you. The least you can do is let me have some fun with it.

portrait_dubtaksI know, I know… but once we get into space, you’ll be my Chief Advisor. You should be honored to be working for the Grand Appropriator. Do you know how many cover letters I’ve read from Dubtaks who want your position?

portrait_gizmoI imagine your definition of “read” is a little closer to “threw directly into the reprocesscinerator.”

portrait_dubtaks…So, uh… I’ll see you next month.


Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0030.7


Our first construction project has been completed on schedule. The new agriplot increases our prosperity from the base 1 per day to 3 per day.

portrait_dubtaksWhatever that means.

portrait_gizmoWell, it seems to mean more personnel will be allocated in exactly seven days.


portrait_gizmoAnd we’ll have to wait those seven days, because at the moment we have zero available personnel for additional projects.

portrait_dubtaksWhat about the ones who just finished building that agriplot?

portrait_gizmoThese are very complicated facilities. Each one requires a contingent of laborers just to maintain, even after construction is finished.

portrait_dubtaksThen I guess it’s back to the Mantak Cave for another week of Webflix marathons.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0037.0

Additional personnel have arrived at Launch Headquarters and we are prepared to resume construction.


I’ve suggested a factory as our next project. One factory will cut our construction times in half.


And by the time it’s done, our population will have grown again.


Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0063.2

My Dubtak benefactors have apparently been allocating resources to a little side project…



I don’t understand how they plan on doing it, but they’re supposedly ready to steal technology from the galaxy’s alien races we haven’t even met yet.

portrait_dubtaksWhat’ve we got to lose? Just send out the Plunderprobes and see what they can bring back.

portrait_gizmoI really don’t think there’s anything much out there to bring back y–

portrait_dubtaksDo it! For Science!


portrait_dubtaksYes! What’d we get?

This is an empty research screen.
This is an empty research screen.

portrait_dubtaks…I stand by my decision.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0067.8

Our workers have just finished their second project, with more builders on site to begin the next structure immediately.


There is a perfect location for a laboratory adjacent to our new factory, and since there doesn’t seem to be any technology to steal quite yet, I’ve set us up to get started on our own research for now.

[LPer’s Note: Seemed like a waste not to take advantage of these blue squares. Green, red, and blue squares boost prosperity, production, and research (respectively) if you build the corresponding buildings on them. White squares have no special properties and the only thing that can be built on black squares is transport tubes (an otherwise useless structure).]


Once the laboratory is functional, we’ll be able to begin pursuing the technology we need to leave the system.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0092.1

The Launch Program has been underway for three months now, all of our basic facilities are up and running, and our scientists can now start doing actual, non-theft-based science.


There are three potential starting points:




Shipyards and motors are obviously required to build a ship. Though Xenobiology doesn’t seem immediately necessary, I happen to know that it’s a field of research that will lead to very important discoveries. Hopefully I can convince the Appropriator to see beyond his need for instant gratification.

And his need to have the biggest toys.

portrait_dubtaksI want shipyards. The biggest, awesomest shipyards.

portrait_gizmoYou’re nothing if not predictable.


In any case, we need all of these technologies to even begin exploring, so it’s no use fighting over for the time being.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0117.4


Progress! Our efforts toward orbital structures has opened up new possibilities in the area of interplanetary exploration.


We’ll soon have access to rudimentary power systems as well as basic ship hulls. Next up will be the Tonklin Diary.


And by the time that research has been completed, we should have taken advantage of all production-rich areas available to us.


Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0161.8

Launch Headquarters now consists of three agriplots, two laboratories, and three factories.


Two of those factories have been constructed in production-rich areas, reducing the required build-time for a shipyard to only 48 days. The zero-G contractors are being sent into orbit as I record this.


portrait_dubtaksNow we’re talking.

portrait_gizmoDon’t get too excited yet. Our scientists have developed ship hulls, power systems, engines, and they’re working on star lane drives…


portrait_gizmoBut that leaves colonizer units — and weapons if you want them.

portrait_dubtaksColonizers yes. Weapons no. Dubtaks are lovers, Gizmo — not fighters. We only want to sow our space oats.

portrait_gizmoWell, that’ll require researching xenobiology like I told you months ago.

portrait_dubtaksDon’t waste the resources. I’d put money on us getting it for free on the next tech plunder.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0218.9

The Appropriator has launched his third techno-theft expedition and come back empty-handed.

…So we’ve had to do it the hard way.


Xenobiology is now out of the way, which leads to the final ship component we need: colonizers. (As well as Ion Wrap shields, but I’m told we won’t need to deploy those.)


Our shipyard has been waiting in orbit, completed, for over a week. To occupy our laborers, we’ve been building additional factories, working our way west where reports say a team of archeologists has uncovered what appear to be alien ruins. It may be that the species who built me wasn’t the first to visit the Dubtaks’ world.


portrait_gizmoWhat do you think your ancient ancestors stole from them?

portrait_dubtaksHow do you know this wasn’t a secret spy installation built by your masters?

portrait_gizmoI’m not aware of any surveillance program, but then again, you did fry half my memory circuits when you crowbarred me out of the landing party’s ship.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0235.6


Today is the big day. Research into colonizers is complete, which allows us to move into shipboard weapons and planetary shields.


More importantly, we can now begin constructing the first ship in our fleet. The Appropriator and I are meeting to discuss the specifications.


portrait_gizmoThe High Board of Executives has been leaving angry vidmessages about how far we’re behind schedule, so we need to keep this first ship as basic as possible to get it out of dry-dock in a reasonable amount of time. Five slots for equipment and ship systems. Let’s make them count.


portrait_dubtaksSo many gadgets… and so little space…

portrait_gizmoA star drive, engine, and generator are all givens, of course. Which leaves room for two colonizers.


portrait_dubtaks…so few toys…

portrait_gizmoAre you having a crisis over there? Don’t cry; next time I’ll let you build a medium-size ship.

portrait_dubtaksDo I at least get to name this one?

portrait_gizmoTechnically, you can do whatever you want. But you let me make the important decisions because you know I’m smarter than you.

portrait_dubtaksI want to call it the Fortuity.

portrait_gizmoThat’s… more poetic a name than I’d have expected from you.

portrait_dubtaksIt was my dog’s name.


[“CS” here is for Colony Ship. If you’re wondering, it’s just my system of labeling ships for easy identification later. Colony Ship, Scout Ship, War Ship, Invasion Ship, etc.]

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0263.4


The Fortuity is complete, fully crewed, and prepped for launch.


The crew will take a quick joyride through the upper atmosphere, in order for all the other tribes to witness our so-called “greatness,” and then they’ll make for the first planet from our sun, Amoroso I.



The power systems on board only have enough juice for the quick planetary hop, which thankfully in this phase of the year isn’t very far. The CS Fortuity will drop its colonizer unit on Amoroso I, and then wait 24 hours for its power cells to recharge.


portrait_dubtaksWe’re calling this colony Alpha Base since it’s our first offworld base — and Greek letters make things sound cool.


portrait_gizmoYou’re the boss, unfortunately.

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0268.2

Alpha Base has been established on Amoroso I, with an agriplot under construction.


Now that the colony’s underway, the CS Fortuity has left orbit. It’s been making its way through the system for several days, toward one of our star lanes.


This morning, it passed through the event horizon and we lost our communications link.


It’s now a waiting game while the ship travels through the lane. We’ll have no contact until they come out the other side and report their findings in the next system…

portrait_dubtaksWhere no Dubtak has gone before!

In the meantime, we’ve discovered our first weapon systems.


And have begun work on more advanced farming structures and the next tier of engines.


But for once, technological progress may not be the most interesting thing for my Dubtak hosts. Over the next few days, I suspect all Dubtaks will be watching the newsblasts featuring our only inkling of the Fortuity’s progress: this little blip on our radar system, racing off into the unknown…





portrait_dubtaks…I can’t take this waiting. I”ll be at home distracting myself with pornograms. Don’t bother me until that ship comes out of hyperspace.

… many pornograms later …

Grand Appropriator’s Log, Star Date 0275.9


The CS Fortuity has reached–

portrait_gizmoOh, screw the log. BOSS! — THEY MADE IT. We’re establishing communications with the ship now! It’ll just be a few minutes while the transmocomm technoblab links are aligned.

portrait_dubtaksJust in time for the New Years office party!

portrait_gizmoIt sure is convenient that there are just enough days in the Dubtak calendar to get us to this exciting cliffhanger!

portrait_dubtaksYeah, it’s funny how that worked out.

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