Thursday, February 25, 2016

Design Notes on a Majestic Stars campaign

Inspired by White Star I been fooling around with making a science-fiction campaign based on my own original setting.
The following is the basic premise of the setting.

Mankind has reached the stars only to find… Earth
Birds flying under distant skies, fish swimming unexplored seas, and dinosaurs ruling unknown continents. On a hundred words there are the children of Earth. Children from an Earth of sixty-five million years ago.
Now man has outgrown his cradle and traveled into the black, wondering who and what scattered the seeds of Earth throughout the cosmos. Mankind is forging a new life among the stars but old fears and conflicts still threaten. The year is 2525 and this is their universe, the Majestic Stars.
While White Star caters to the Space Opera genre, I am leaning more towards Indiana Jones style pulp. One reason for this is my love of Babylon 5 which has a plot thread involving ancient civilizations and archaeology running through the show's run and its show lived sequel Crusade. A major focus of the campaign will be exploring ancient ruins left by the Ancient Saurians.

Another focus is the idea of the Astroguard. The Astroguard is a combination space coast guard, anti-piracy patrol, exploration corp, and rescue and aid service. It is a multi-national organization sponsored by the major powers and smaller nations of human space. It is organized as a military but more in the traditions of the United States Coast Guard and Army Corp of Engineers rather than Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force. For example it has warship but nothing larger than a cruiser. You could look at it similar to Star Trek's Star Fleet but without it's bigger ships and without being the official military arm of the Federation.

Whether the campaign will be about PC being members of the Astroguard will be up to them. I think it will work as part of the campaign whether only one or two PCs are Astroguards or even none of them. The Astroguard will definitely be one of the "good" guys of the setting.

Another thing I will is the fact that humanity just has made contact with an advanced intersteller culture that is comparable in power to all of human space. The alien race that dominates this cultures is descended from the dinosaurs but are not the same race as the Ancient Saurians. To confuse matters these guys are also named Saurians as well.

The wrinkle is that while humanity made first contact 50 years ago with the Saurians it was a dissident faction of their culture. Apparently the vast majority of Saurians are united into a single empire under the rule of an undying Third Emperor. The group that humanity made contact with call themselves the Commonwealth and are comprised of dissidents, refugees, and exiles who fled into deep space to escape the Empire. And in recent years thanks to the information learned the Commonwealth Saurians, anthropologists and researchers into Saurian culture realize that the Empire shared many characteristics with the personality cult that dominated Nazi Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union under Stalin.

So yeah, I got dinosaur space Nazis, top that Spielberg and Lucas.

As for humanity, it is political fragmented, mostly because in the future history I developed Earth was kicked into a new ice age by a Tambora II explosion in Indonesia around 2200. After a few hiccups and wars this ignited a interstellar diaspora that spread human colonies and settlement across a 100 light year sphere. As result while Earth is the most populated human planet it only in the last century has Earth bound civilization has recovered and stabilized. There are still some major powers like the United States, the United Kingdom, the Chinese People's Republic, And the Union dominated by French and German colonies. However all of these now are largely based off-world. with only a token presence on Earth. Earth itself still politically divided and is dominated by South America, India, and South China.

One thing I am playing around is the idea that humanity is now dominated by a post-scarcity economy. That 3D manufacturing technology has made the use of Fabricators ubiquitous along with CHON Ovens for creating food staples. This is allows nearly every household act as a farm and factory for their basic needs.

But... of course there is a but. The result isn't an utopia. Yes definitely better materially than our current situation however society is still stratified. Status in the 26th century mainly revolves around those who can get people organized and motivated for particular projects. In many ways, it doesn't appear much different than how we do things in the 21st century. Money still exists for example. People still have jobs. However with the existence of Fabricators and CHON Ovens, anybody can walk away at any time. The main that keeps people at their job is that it is either interesting or that they work with people they consider interesting.

One reason I am doing this is that I feel it makes the idea of a pure adventuring party plausible. A group of folks use their connection to procure a starship, work together to keep it operating, and go out exploring and getting into trouble. The adventuring party still want to earn credits because I am sure they will want to do things beyond sitting around all day in their starship, eating meals prepared from ingredients from their CHON Oven.

Another thing I am doing is that this technology has led to humanity to be extremely diverse. There are probably ten billion humans spread out among hundreds of worlds in a 100 light year radius of Earth. Humanity hasn't reach the limits of influence of the Ancient Saurians so new worlds terraformed by them are still being found by the Astroguard. One result of this is just about every form of government or culture from Earth has a settlement somewhere. As weird as it sounds there are some with totalitarian government started because that how the settlers wanted to live along with various utopian and religious communities. The point is to have these little weird pockets of civilization scattered about for the PCs to encounter and deal with.

Right now I am working on a specific location to base the campaign round. I thinking of borrowing a bit from Babylon 5 and  Deep Space Nine and having the "town" of the campaign be the Artemis Space Station. The Artemis Station is run by the Astroguard and is located near the edge of Saurian Commonwealth space in a sector that noted for it numerous ancient ruins. I am still working on the details and will share them in another design notes post.


Sean Wills said...

Interesting approach, I like the ancient ruins angle and having the space stations base town. The Whitestar game I'm playing in is more like Firefly but pulpy archeo_adventuring would be fun. Are you including psionics and techomagic or is it straight scifi

Timothy Brannan said...

I think it sounds awesome! Is this just for home use or publication?

Rob Conley said...

@Sean Wills - Yes there is psionics, and maybe on the technomagic. I have an idea involving yet another dissident faction of the Imperial Saurians.

@Timothy Brannan - Both I generally play my stuff first and then publish. Works out better that way.