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Roberts Space Industries ®

Tommyknockers / KNOCKERS

  • Organization
  • Casual
  • Resources
  • Freelancing

“Just Scraping the Surface”


Origins of the Name

During the American and Australian gold rushes of nineteenth century Earth the knowledge and experience of Cornwall’s hard rock miners was in high demand, and as they landed on new shores they brought with them a deep relationship with tommyknockers.

Tommyknockers are often heard and seldom seen. The tapping of a pick from deep within a rockface could be a warning of an impending cave-in or a hint towards a rich vein of ore, in either case it is in a miner’s best interest to pay close attention to the tommyknockers. It is also recommended practice to stay in their good graces by leaving behind pasties as offerings, because as helpful as a tommyknocker can be, they can be equally vindictive when neglected or disrespected.

The origins of tommyknockers are a matter of some debate but it is generally believed that they are the ghosts of miners who lost their lives deep in the tunnels they worked, though some believe them to be souls trapped between Heaven and Hell, or that they might be faerie folk distinct from humanity entirely. Spirit or faerie, there is no disputing that the tapping of a tommyknocker is not to be ignored.

Origins of the Organization

The Tommyknockers began as a social club for miners on Mars in 2153. It was an especially tense time as this was the second attempt to terraform Mars, the first ending in the Great Mars Tragedy of 2125 when 4,876 lost their lives.

Mining on Mars was a particular challenge as the lack of an atmosphere meant they needed to wear heavy breathing apparatuses in addition to the burdensome tools of the trade, and even at one-third the gravity of Earth they often struggled under the weight. And as is the tendency of humanity, hard work lead to some…creative recreation and they gained quite a reputation for shenanigans amongst the other operators in the settlement. While they were a particularly rowdy bunch, there was an observed code of honor amongst them and they abstained completely from hateful acts, preferring those focused on having a good time, or maybe bending the rules a bit to make a few extra credits to send back home.

A memorial was erected on Mars to those who perished in the first attempt to terraform the planet, and it was the Tommyknockers who mined the titanium the memorial was cast in, and the ore used to plate it in copper—a rare and very difficult to uncover resource on the planet. While Tommyknockers consider Earth their ancestral home, they have a strong fondness for Mars as it was the place that united them in kinship as did the harsh conditions for their fraternal forbearers in the mines of Cornwall, Australia, and America.


After the terraformation of Mars, and for nearly two-hundred and fifty years beyond it, the Tommyknockers thrived. They tended to prefer the company of other Tommyknockers—and the rest of the population had no objection to this tendency, though there were no real tensions between them—and over the decades this led to the formation of a small district colloquially known as “The Homestake”. The Homestake was renown for having the liveliest pubs and festivals, all of which were known to be a friendly and welcome diversion from the laborious task of colonizing a planet, particularly for the reason that this was the first time humanity had done such a thing.

By roughly 2350 the Martian boom had plateaued and the business of mining the plentiful iron, titanium, and aluminum tapered to a trickle. The first jump point had been discovered 80 years prior and many had already left to the Croshaw system to assist in the terraforming of new planets and in the next decade most others would follow.

It was with some sadness that the doors of the Hare’s Haven—the oldest and most loved Knocker pub on Mars—were locked for the last time as its keeper, John Angove, boarded a ship to Angeli. Within a few short years Tommyknockers called three planets home, and after the discovery of more jump points in the Croshaw system and another in Sol, they were further dispersed to new planets and mineral-rich asteroid belts.

Their sense of identity, however, did not suffer, for it is often said that “a mine is a hole anywhere in the galaxy with at least one Tommyknocker at the bottom of it”. Wherever they relocated they formed tight-knit communities bringing along their customs, music, and pasties. Many believe you can trace the expansion of Tommyknockers by the trail of pasties they left behind.

While a majority of Tommyknockers prefer mining, their adventurous spirits, familiarity with scanning technology, and piloting prowess can often lead them into into work as explorers. And where other opportunities are scarce you might find them working in cargo hauling or even bounty hunting, for a Tommyknocker is nothing if not versatile and resilient.

So, with that they have become Cosmic Cousin Jacks, travellers and settlers of new frontiers.

Credit: Banner image by Paithan


Tommyknockers are a very tight-knit community of career miners, though they will not turn their noses up at an opportunity. The original Tommyknockers of Mars could trace their roots back to Cornwall at the very dawn of hard rock mining in 2150 BCE, as such they are highly sought after members of any mining crew, and they remain focused on honoring that legacy.

While earning a decent living for themselves and their families as miners is their primary concern, if a “freelance” job comes along that might require them to bend a few rules a little bit—or perhaps quite a lot—they wouldn’t be the sort to reject it out of hand. They are, however, a very proud group of people and their general disregard for rules does not extend to downright malice. Hateful acts bring upon considerable dishonor. So, while their rules are few, the observance of them is a serious matter.

Anyone wishing to join the Tommyknockers will find a warm welcome but, being quite clannish, navigating into unreserved acceptance is a gradual matter. A new Tommyknocker will find this acceptance through getting to know other members on a personal level, not through professional prowess: Mining can be learned, being an asshole is rarely forgotten.


Code of Honor

  • Stay honest and focused on your work while employed in the mining trade
  • Stay true to your fellow Tommyknockers
  • Respect hard-working folk that are minding their own business
  • Do not kill unless your life is in immediate danger

Ranking System

LEADERSHIP Chief-Overman
  • Position: Highest ranking member of the organization. There can be only one Chief-Overman at any given time.
  • Etymology: An overman historically reported to the Manager, during the terraforming of Mars the position of Manager became known as the Chief-Overman. (Earliest confirmed use: 2146)
  • Position: Outranked only by the Chief-Overman. There can be only one Viewer at any given time.
  • Etymology: The manager in charge of all operations above and below ground. (Earliest confirmed use: 1825)
    ref: 1, 2
  • Position: Membership rank given to members of Leadership.
  • Etymology: An English transliteration of the German “übermensch”. Literally translated as “higher man”, it means overseer or foreman. (Earliest confirmed use: 1825)
    ref: 1, 2, 3
  • Position: Members immediately below Leadership. There may be up to four Master-Shifters at any given time.
  • Etymology: A master-shifter reports directly to an overman and is chiefly charged with the safety of a mining operation and is responsible for the welfare of the miners under his/her watch. (Earliest confirmed use: 1849)
    ref: 1, 2
  • Position: A full member of the organization.
  • Etymology: A miner who is paid by the day. Historically the bulk of the workforce would have been oncostmen. (Earliest confirmed use: 1894)
    ref: 1, 2, 3
Cousin Jack
  • Position: A junior member of the organization.
  • Etymology: During the Cornish Diaspora of the late 19th century miners often asked for jobs for their “cousin Jack” back home. Jack was a very common name at the time and the Cornish had a tendency to refer to each other as “cousin” regardless of relation. (Earliest confirmed use: 1875)
    ref: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Position: An initiate. A flat-lad is not yet a member of the organization.
  • Etymology: Historically, a young man charged with hoisting heavy buckets of coal or ore out of a mineshaft with the use of a crane. (Earliest confirmed use: 1849)
    ref: 1, 2, 3
  • Position: A friend does not hold any rank and has no voting privileges but is considered a “Friend of the Tommyknockers”.
  • Etymology: Old English frēond, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vriend and German Freund, from an Indo-European root meaning “to love”. (Earliest confirmed use: c.1200)
    ref. 1


When important decisions are to be made that impact the future direction of the organization a vote will be called. All members are entitled to a vote of equal importance. The Chief-Overman may veto the decision of the vote, though this is exceedingly rare for the fact that this kind of forceful decision making is very unpopular with Tommyknockers. Exercising this power too often could likely see a vote called for the removal of the Chief-Overman. In such an instance his/her power of veto is null.

Dispute Resolution

In the event of a dispute amongst Tommyknockers that cannot be decided between the interested parties a council of no less that three full members, including one member of Leadership, will be formed. The assembled council will hear the grievance of each party and privately deliberate before passing a binding resolution. This resolution may be as simple as an apology, though it could likely involve the exchange of goods. Issues thought to be more serious than a Council can pass resolution on will be referred to a High Council. A High Council is comprised of all available full members and Leadership and may pass judgement as serious as rank reassignment or even removal from the organization.


Star Citizen makes distinctions between “members” and “affiliates”. The Tommyknockers make no such distinction. Members and affiliates alike are considered to be members, the singular limitation being that only members by the Star Citizen definition may be admitted into a Leadership role.