Starman waiting in the sky
Absalom Station is a melting pot. Though many see the station as the hereditary home of all Golarion’s races, particularly of humanity, today its corridors are choked with natives of other planets, and its status as the primary waypoint in and out of the Pact Worlds means even the rarest spacefaring species can sometimes be found in its docks. For all the station’s multiculturalism, however, humans are by far the most numerous. In the wake of the Gap, while elves retreated to Castrovel and dwarves constructed their massive Star Citadels, humanity clung to the station as a key piece of its cultural identity, finding comfort in its tangible—if mysterious—sense of history and continuity.
Of course the majority of humans are far more concerned with their own families and livelihoods than metaphysical questions about culture. Still, humans being what they are, most of those on Absalom Station view it as inherently theirs, with vague exceptions made for other races once native to Golarion, and treat all others as encroaching immigrants or foreign nationals. This naturally raises some hackles with the other common species on the station, many of which have been residents for just as long (as far as anyone can tell).
Even more than race, economic class divides Absalom Station’s citizens. Taxes on trade keep even the poorest on the station fed. If only with unappetizing nutrient paste and protein bricks, yet the people living in the extravagantly posh corporate towers of the Eye have little in common with the impoverished wretches of the Spike. Money both democratizes and oppresses station residents: those who manage to build a fortune, legally or otherwise, tend to find the upper classes welcoming them with open arms. The true wealth tends to remain concentrated in the hands of the elites who make the rules. Fortunately, the generally egalitarian government, organizations such as the Starfinder Society and Stewards, and the constant flow of merchants and mercenaries through the station offer even the lowliest Botscrap street rat a chance at social advancement.
On the other hand, religion helps unify the station’s disparate peoples and hold its political apparatus together. Several major churches, most notably those of Abadar and Iomedae, have their headquarters here, but shrines and temples of countless gods can be found throughout the station, and most congregations are very diverse.
Seen from above, Absalom Station is shaped roughly like an asymmetrical, six-pointed star spreading out in a flat plane from the Eye, the huge central dome that encloses a collection of skyscrapers surrounded by shockingly green parks. More towers and neighborhoods, collectively called the Ring, partially fill the gaps between the station’s arms, and a single tapering pillar called the Spike drops down from the station’s central disk. Altogether, Absalom Station is only 5 miles across, yet its three-dimensional structure means it can house upward of two million people and still be easy for the uninitiated to get lost in or find themselves alone in rarely visited corridors. Artificial gravity is in effect throughout the station, with “down” always being perpendicular to the disk and arms, toward the complex technomagical gravity field generators in the Spike’s tip.
Visitors to Absalom Station disembark along one of the station’s protruding Arms, which house nearly 100 different docks and bays ranging from force-walled, atmosphere-filled hangars you can fly your ship into to more conventional airless bays or, if your ship is larger, docking tubes and mooring clamps. Docks are assigned by Absalom Traffic Control, yet this is more than just a question of space, as different docks all have different characteristics. A ship full of gilled kalo, for eample, would likely prefer to dock near the flooded chambers of the Puddles, while most well-off merchant captains would rather fly into the sun than pay the unofficial “docking fees” or watch their cargo walk away on its notoriously crime-ridden docks.
The Arms consist of more than just docks, however. Like those in spaceports anywhere, the corridors leading to the station’s center are lined with almost everything a spacer coming stationside might need, from lodging and entertainment to busy markets and shops. Many traders coming to the station never bother to leave the Arms, and the residential areas that have sprung up to support these services are also the most likely to contain facilities or whole neighborhoods for creatures that find the station’s humanocentric living conditions unpleasant.
This neighborhood takes its name from its thick, multicolored atmosphere tailored to natives of the gas giant worlds Bretheda and Liavara. Nevertheless, other species visit frequently, making use of communal breathing masks in the airlocks in order to interact with representatives from the various Brethedan biotech companies or negotiate for gas-mining or research rights on Liavara.
Catering to water-breathing creatures, this neighborhood is a mazelike system of tanks and flooded hallways, with glass-walled tubes running throughout to accommodate air-breathing guests. Despite the inconvenience, many “huffers” (as Puddles residents sometimes derogatorily refer to air breathers) find that Puddles restaurants provide an exotic but delicious dining experience.
While most ethnic enclaves on Absalom Station are simply the result of like attracting like, the Vesk Quarter was deliberately established in the first days following the end of the war with the Veskarium in an attempt to reduce violence and tension on both sides. Today, vesk can be found throughout Absalom Station, living and working like any other race, yet they still retain their highest concentration in the drab, barracks-like buildings of the Vesk Quarter.
Absalom Station’s massive transparent central dome, filled with air and bathed in the light of the sun, is at the same time a civic center and the station’s most exclusive sector. The lush trees and fields of Jatembe Park are open to all citizens and constantly full of young lovers and artists enjoying their splendor under the watchful eyes of the druidic caretakers. At the same time, government buildings rub shoulders with the most expensive residences and corporate offices in the city—the sorts of places where heavily armed guards in formal armor check identification constantly and the lines between public and private security blur.
Stretching from Kemanis University—the station’s largest institute of higher education—to the Arcanamirium, Kemanis combines the enthusiastic energy of students with the money of the city’s elite to create the station’s most prominent entertainment district. High-end theaters, VR parlors, nightclubs, and hotels light the night with neon and even more elaborate magical advertisements.
Only the richest Absalomians, from virtual reality stars and celebrity inventors to colony financiers and starship magnates, reside in Nyori Palisades. The neighborhood takes its name from the stark, windowless facades of its massive bunker-like residences. Inside, each of these mansions is a unique marvel of artistry, with self-contained ecosystems, scrying windows offering real-time feeds of whatever landscapes the residents desire, and teleportation doors opening onto secret locations across the station or on other worlds. While some tenants decorate the outsides of their palisades to advertise themselves, most prefer anonymity, and property ownership is highly classified.
As the name suggests, this neighborhood runs along the edge of Jatembe Park. In addition to the Plenara, home to the Pact Council, Parkside contains other government buildings such as the headquarters of the Surveying and Colonization Bureau, where explorers can make property claims on newly discovered worlds. Public amenities like the Cornucopia Building, where the station’s poor can receive free food and medical attention, ans some of the priciest commercial real estate in the city.
Made up of corridors and spires between the protruding docks of the Arms and the cosmopolitan Eye, the Ring is the most residential, middle-class section of Absalom Station, yet it also contains campuses for corporations and other organizations that don’t need the traffic of the Arms or the prestige of the Eye.
While churches and shrines to various gods can be found throughout the station, this vertical, wedge- shaped district is an easy go-to for faithful fresh off the docks, containing temples to most of the Pact Worlds’ major deities and many of its smaller ones.
Surrounding the Lorespire Complex, this district earns its name by catering to alien ambassadors from newly discovered worlds, explorers, long-haul cargo crews, and spacefaring vagabonds of all sorts. Housing is cheap and temporary, bars are noisy and full of stories
A riotous bazaar of entrepreneurs selling wares out of cooperative storefronts, temporary stalls, and vehicles. While station security attempts to police the area and make sure business stays relatively legal, the Freemarkets are a great place to buy and sell nearly anything, from used adventuring gear and alien artifacts to custom code, magic items, and refurbished robots.
This small neighborhood has become increasingly controversial over the past 10 years. The human supremacist group "Strong Absalom" have banded together and forced out almost all non-human residents and merchants. Their highly organized campaign involved social and economic destruction of the other races.
The hundreds of levels extending below Absalom Station’s radial plane—often collectively referred to as “Downside”—are simultaneously its most crucial and least appreciated. The vast machines in charge of the station's life support and defenses chug away. The poorest classes of Absalom Station’s citizenry live here, gradually trickling down and away from the light and wealth of the upper levels to build slums in former access corridors or venture into the half-explored Ghost Levels, discovered abandoned at the end of the Gap. Odd creatures of all shapes and sizes are reported to living down below the official neighborhoods.
Nothing is wasted on a space station, even one as big as Absalom Station. While recyclers and biovats take care of breaking simple waste down into its components, more complex items and robotics often end up in the private junkyards of Botscrap, hauled there by the ysoki-dominated Salvage Union. An aspiring engineer can usually find a lot of whatever he needs if they know who's palm to grease.
Few locals use Conduit’s official name, choosing instead using the colloquial name of Pipetown, and many proudly bear the kinked-pipe tattoos that proclaim them natives of this district. Even engineers armed with the best schematics struggle to find their way through the dense, seemingly endless forest of pipes that sometimes create a three-dimensional labyrinth with settlements in their clearings. As such, locals often act as guides for outsiders.
Offering affordable housing and retail space, Downlow is the largest and safest of the Spike districts, as well as one of the most cosmopolitan. Complex maraquoi family units live above shirren-run option bars along the crowded corridors. The Android Acting Consortium puts on rousing comedies and dramas which are highly reviewed even by the topside press. Like any poor but trendy spot wealthy residents public disparage its existence, but their sons or daughters are sometimes caught by the press "downing" in the area. Official law enforcement are few and far between, but local independent groups keep good order for the most part.
he engineering bays of Sparks range from cramped, one-person custom-tech shops to titanic dry docks for starship manufacturing and repair. Despite the massive wealth passing through the corridors of Sparks, most residents remain poor laborers and middle-class specialists, with the majority of profits flowing “topside” to the corporate towers. Primary corridors are kept safe by both public and private security, while access corridors and workshops off the beaten path are often plagued shady creatures and disgruntled street gangs.