Major Tom Character in Ethnis | World Anvil

Major Tom

A vagabond engineer. Is he a ghost or an AI?

Written by Ademal

We found him adrift on a wrecked Wayship. He and his crew were long since dead and decayed, but there he was, or at least his suit, still working away.

The systems on board were in a bad way, but from what we recovered they were attacked before the Melancholic Lacuna and blown massively off course and he's spent the last thousand years fixing all the damage and getting it back into orbit.

One of the humans named him Major Tom. Seems as good as anything.

— Engineer Oraka

Major Tom is an entity of uncertain property and drive. In life he was an engineer, as evidenced by his engineering-oriented assistance suit and his habit of working on whatever vessel he's on.


Major Tom does not communicate by any other means but hand gestures.

Attempts to establish a MetaLink are unsuccessful, as his armor is nonpermiable and so requires a higher-level psiolic to cast into. He does not speak, barely responds to complex conversation, and walks away from prolonged interaction.



Major Tom holds no allegiance except to the ship he is on. While he is aboard he will endlessly toil at maintaining, repairing, and upgrading any vessel, but at any port may leave the ship without warning to find a new place. Whether his travel pattern is planned or random is uncertain.


Major Tom is pacifist and will not engage in combat unless someone attempts to open his suit. He will, however, repair weapons systems during a fight, and upgrade them periodically. What systems he works on is seemingly arbitrary. Tom seems to favor people who treat him well, bring him tools, and allow him to go wherever he wants, and in return they may periodically find that he has upgraded his gear.

Ghost in a machine?

Major Tom has extensively upgraded his suit. It is difficult to tell if he is the onboard AI of the suit on autopilot or if he is the ghost of the skeleton within keeping it animate. Because lower levels of Divination cannot permeate his sealed, armored suit, and because he refuses to interface directly with any other technology, the nature of his being remains a mystery.

555-5555 by Lorn


Who was Major Tom?
Was he someone important, or was he a nobody? It's been a thousand years since he lived, but what did he know in life, and is it relevant in death?
Is he machine or spirit?
Or is he some ghastly mix of both? If he is a ghost, what task, curse, or condition keeps him bound to his bones, and how did his spirit remain in the meta void of space? If Major Tom is just the onboard AI of the suit, why is it so autonomous? Did the living Major Tom program his suit to do something in death?
What is his goal?
He wanders from ship-to-ship, staying on some for days, sometimes for years. Is he going anywhere? Does he have a plan? Or is he just a wandering spirit or lost AI caught on a loop that only seems to possess meaning?

I would like people to use Major Tom as an NPC in their campaigns, read the Authors Note below for more!



Author's Notes

Major Tom is indeed named after Space Oddity, but that is no hard rule on how he acts or what his past is.

A mysterious npc...

Even the author does not know the answers to Major Tom's enigmas. Tom is open for use as an NPC in your sci-fi campaigns, though I retain the rights to him. If you use him I want to hear about his story in the comments!

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Aug 9, 2018 05:28

Major Tom is David Bowie. Not the David Bowie, singer-songwriter from Earth who lived in 20th century Earth prior Humanity's great space exploits and contact with other Sophonts. But an Icon that emerged during the Resurrection Craze in the decades following the debut of Proudly Sung's Encore where dupes were created to emulate and allow public interaction with deceased celebrities. Self aware and independent, the Icon chose to pursue a career as a Wayship engineer in honor of his Progenitor's greatest hit songs thus becoming the immortalized Cosmonaut. He has since entered a stage of severe Flanderization, wherein his personality and behavior have deterioratd to basic almost mechanical motions. He can no longer speak, his communication limited to hand gestures. He exists solely to fulfill his duty as Major Tom...

Aug 9, 2018 05:32 by Ademal

That is extremely possible. I am touched you made the effort to make something so lore-compliant.

Check out my summercamp by going here and checking out any of my gold-star articles!

Aug 9, 2018 05:33

Of course. We Somnolent take our Ethnis-lore very seriously.

Aug 9, 2018 05:39 by Roman Gifford

I love the cover and the embedded spotify song. The enigma section is something I have never seen before, great thought there and great implementation too! Major Tom sounds like an NPC in a space exploration game, which I consider to be high praise. The fact that he focuses on repairs and wanders "randomely" from ship to ship opens up SO MANY wonderful little sub plots! I am very intrigued and can't wait to see him pop up somewhere else!

Aug 12, 2018 01:50 by Ademal

I'm really hopeful that someone will use him! I'd love to hear the tales of his travels.

Check out my summercamp by going here and checking out any of my gold-star articles!

Aug 11, 2018 17:57

This is amazing and I was smiling the whole time I read this! Now that Starfinder is being published I hope he sees many campaigns in the future!

Aug 12, 2018 00:52 by Ademal

I hadn't thought of that, here's hoping!

Check out my summercamp by going here and checking out any of my gold-star articles!

Nov 6, 2018 17:28 by Lenosallose

Really cool and interesting character! ^-^

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