SFRPG

The forum for Science Fiction Role Playing Game inspiration and information! So Say We All!
It is currently Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:52 am

All times are UTC




Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 43 posts ]  Go to page 1 2 3 4 5 Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Hard Space
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:53 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:41 am
Posts: 2149
Location: Yavne, Israel
While I dedicate most of my game-design time to my Visions of Empire setting, which has commercial implications, as well as shorter Stellagama Games products, I thought that it might be fun to write up a Traveller setting inspired by my conclusions regarding Classic Traveller lethality. This, of course, is for Classic Traveller - mainly Books 1-3, with some added material from Book 4 and Supplement 4: Citizens of the Imperium, as well as hand-picked materials from JTAS. However, the spirit of the setting is that of the three little books - a dangerous, mostly-frontier, small-ship universe. This is not a grand space opera setting such as Visions of Empire or the Official Traveller Universe, but rather a much grittier, harsher and less colourful. Think of it, maybe, as a reflection of mine on my old Outer Veil setting (published four and a half years ago by Spica Publishing) with the "grit" and "harshness" dials turned up to 11.

I have made a rule for myself, however, in order to prevent having Hard Space take over the time devoted to Visions of Empire: I have made a rule for myself, however, in order to prevent having Hard Space take over the time devoted to Visions of Empire: I will write ONE paragraph for Hard Space for every FIVE paragraphs I write for the Visions of Empire.

Anyhow, the premise of Hard Space is this - the year is 2130 AD. Humanity has only recently reached out to the nearby stars, but limited technology does not allow for rapid interstellar expansion. Space is dangerous, ships are small, and even sixty-three years of faster-than-light exploration and settlement have only carved out a small, sparsely populated colonial region around Sol. As the old national governments on Earth have been bled dry financially and politically by the events of the mid-21st century, space is the domain of the private sector - of the larger corporations; once you leave Luna's orbit, Earth governments are little more than flags-of-convenience to private-sector investments and facilities. Competition among the "Big Four" interstellar corporations, and to a lesser degree between their rivals, is tense and quite cutthroat, leading to a great degree of underhanded actions and industrial espionage.

Most of humanity still lives on Earth, followed by Luna and Mars. As Earth is highly polluted, extremely crowded, and suffering from an unstable climate, many people - especially from the lower classes - are willing to take major risks to move to the colonies, where living conditions are often somewhat better, and where corporate jobs abound, even if they are mostly low-level jobs. To get away from the sprawling slums of Earth, many would even accept the risk of travel by Low Berth. Moving to Luna or Mars is easier, but the jobs on the extrasolar colonies pay better, and some of them have actual open-air environments.

Humanity has colonized 35 primary extra-solar worlds, of them 24 in the last fourteen years. The common way to refer to the stages of interstellar colonization is by "generations" or "waves" of colonization related to the development of jump technology combined with the slower creep of regular world-to-world expansion. The 1st generations colonies were founded between 2067 - when the corporations developed the first Jump Drives - and approximately 2090. The 2nd generation started with the colonial push of Zhang-Markov Industries and Iron Star Enterprises to the Coreward and Rimward, respectively, in the early 2090's, and lasted until the development of next-generation starship drives in 2116. The 3rd generation began in 2216 and is still going strong, with Zhang-Markov and Iron Star expanding further along their "arms" and attracting lesser colonial partners; the Royal British Interstellar Company (RBIC) colonizing the Procyon Cluster, and United European Minerals (UEM) colonizing the Ceti Cluster.

Humanity has encountered alien life on many worlds, but no (living) sentient life. There are, however, the Visitors. These alien beings have presumably "Visited" Mars - as well as several extrasolar worlds - leaving behind anomalous "Visitation Zones" filled with anomalies and artifacts, with little hint of their creators or their purpose. Most anomalies are highly dangerous - typically lethal to the unsuspecting explorer - and almost all artifacts have no immediate use. However, gradual research of Visitor artifacts does yield some insights into exotic physics and even weirder molecular biology, and thus any artifact has a meaty price tag when sold to researchers or to scientifically-minded corporations. Exploring a Visitation Zone is a profitable, though highly risky, enterprise. In many cases, when explorers find a Visitation Zone on a remote world, this generates a violent "gold rush" where rival gangs of Stalkers - as those artifact-hunters are often called - stop at nothing when trying to amass artifacts for sale to corporations and research institutes.

This is a very "early" near-future near-Earth setting. Even more than Outer Veil. The maximum Tech Level is 10, though unreliable prototype technology can reach TL13 in some cases, and in the case of electronics and software might even reach TL16 in very unreliable cases. The only Starport-A around is that of the Sol system - the collective shipyards of Earth, Luna and the Belt - and the only Industrial World in the setting is Earth itself. The largest starships are 1,000 tons in displacement - as this setting uses the Classic Traveller Books 2-3 drive tables and drive TLs; small ships are usually faster, and a colonial transport or heavy freighter of 1,000 tons will typically take long weeks to reach most destinations. Colonies are very small and very remote in comparison to anything in the Sol system.

This is a time of outward expansion and adventure among the stars - and also of great, mortal danger. Going into the Unknown is a particularly risky endeavour, as the Unknown as teeth, and Claws, and tentacles, and even the slightest malfunction in a ship's drives or in a spacer's vacc suit could spell disaster to the hapless explorer. Corporate and government marines battle vicious pirates, desperate rebels, and nasty xenomorphs on many worlds, facing a bloody attrition rate; explorers and couriers on the frontier and beyond - colloquially called "scouts" - go among unexplored stars, and in many cases do not return from their missions. The rewards of interstellar exploration are staggering, but so are the risks...

Sources of inspiration - literature:
Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Sources of inspiration - film and television:
Alien and Aliens
Apollo 18
Event Horizon
Firefly/Serenity
Outland
Pandorum
Stalker
Star Hunter
The Expanse

Sources of inspiration - video games:
Alien Legacy
Dead Space
Descent
Metro: 2033 and Metro: Last Light
Red Faction and Red Faction: Guerrilla
Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
S.T.A.L.K.E.R - Shadows of Chernobyl
System Shock 1 and 2

_________________
We are but a tiny candle flickering against the darkness of our times.

Stellagama Publishing - Visit our Blog, Den of the Lizard King


Top
   
 Post subject: History
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 7:53 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:41 am
Posts: 2149
Location: Yavne, Israel
World War III came about in the early 2040's, but luckily enough it did not materialize into the all-out nuclear armageddon feared by many. Instead, the war dragged on for over a decade, until all belligerents were bled dry and exhausted from the long war years. In 2053, the war was finally over, and the world was in ruins from prolonged conventional warfare and the few nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that did see use in the war.

All sides claimed victory but in reality, there were no victors - just bankrupt and impoverished nations incapable of conducting any further large-scale military operations. Politically, most governments emerged from the war in a very weakened state and had very little support from the war-weary population. The governments were mostly powerless to do anything meaningful to reconstruct the ruins of their nations; into this vacuum stepped the private sector, thrilled with the possibility of profit from reconstruction. Earth's collapsing nation-states no longer had the political power necessary to force taxes or regulations on the larger corporations, and these companies grew rapidly in size and power.

Bit by bit, the corporations rebuilt parts of Earth. Not all of it; not even most of it. But the corporate arcologies and gated cities provided their residents with the amenities of modern life, unlike the almost universal poverty of the urban blight surrounding them. Rising in profits, the private sector turned its eye to research and development, as well as the industrialization of the solar system. In the early 2060's, these efforts bore fruit and resulted in a rapid succession of innovations, from suspended animation to gravitic control, as well as improvements to the fusion power technology existing from before the war. In 2067, gravitic technology led to the greatest invention of all times - the faster-than-light Jump Drive, demonstrated by a historic month-long round-trip to Alpha Centauri by Zhang-Markov Industries's starship Zhen He. Very rapidly - some would say too rapidly - Iron Star Enterprises followed suit and launches their own exploratory starship, John Glenn, on an expedition to Barnard's Star. Thus began the first generation of space colonization.

Space is dangerous, and interstellar space more so. The first interstellar travellers found this the hard way, with high mortality rates among the early explorers who ran into deadly jump drive malfunctions, vicious alien wildlife - and soon enough, inter-corporate rivalry resulting in bloodshed. But mankind continued its march to the stars, despite the small size of interstellar ships allowed by the early jump drives. Colonies soon sprang out on planets orbiting Alpha Centauri, Barnard's Star, and Ross 154, as well as a small research outpost on a rockball in orbit around Luhman 16. With the development of more robust starship shipyards and thus a larger number of starships, the second wave of interstellar colonization in the early 2090's, colonizing seven new worlds, of them only one, orbiting Wolf 424, turned out to be a highly promising garden world, with the rest being more amenable to rare and exotic element mining.

The greatest discovery in the history of space flight came in 2099 when a detailed dig o the Cydonia region of Mars yielded weird alien artifacts after long years of rumors and strange accidents caused to spacecraft and ground vehicles in the vicinity of this region. While the Face of Mars turned out to be nothing but an oddly-shaped hill, the region itself appeared to be visited by extraterrestrial travellers - dubbed the "Visitors". They left behind unexplainable and deadly anomalies warping time and space, as well as a plethora of artifacts, the function of which was never fully discerned so far. Rumors of similar "Visitation Zones" on GL674 IVa and Ross 128 II were strongly denied by Iron Star and Zhang-Markov, respectively. In 2116, research into the alien artifacts and anomalies - while yet far from bringing about an understanding of the Visitors themselves, their purpose, or their civilization, gave scientists valuable insights into meta-dimensional physics and exotic matter, bringing about a new generation of magneto-gravitic and jump engines. These new engines, allowing both larger starships and longer travel ranges, opened up new frontiers to Humanity.

Today, in 2130, human space boasts 35 primary interstellar colonies. Most are very small in size, especially the remote ones, though Proxima Centauri III does serve as a home to almost a hundred thousand people. The frontier is wide open, and starships are "cheap" enough for smaller corporations and all sorts of social and religious movements to afford. Criminals, of course, can afford them as well, and piracy is a blight on the high frontier... This is a time for daring people to go out of the Sol system and seek their fortune among the stars, though many will find there not their fortune - but their untimely death.

_________________
We are but a tiny candle flickering against the darkness of our times.

Stellagama Publishing - Visit our Blog, Den of the Lizard King


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: History
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:58 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2008 12:41 pm
Posts: 409
Location: Northern California
Not a bad setting idea. A few observations:

Golan2072 wrote:
The governments were mostly powerless to do anything meaningful to reconstruct the ruins of their nations; into this vacuum stepped the private sector, thrilled with the possibility of profit from reconstruction. Earth's collapsing nation-states no longer had the political power necessary to force taxes or regulations on the larger corporations, and these companies grew rapidly in size and power.


A poster on here, iirc it was Rust, pointed out that corporations don't really exist outside of governments. Without the scaffolding of a government to provide a stable economic environment, a society of investors, and ultimately its ability to take responsibility when companies screw up fiscally, corporations don't actually become the sort of daring/cutthroat entities we like to see in our evil corporations.

What's more likely than Cyberpunk-style "corporations running the universe" are "cartels of corporations that de facto control governments." Though interestingly enough, this arrangement isn't as stable as you'd think it'd be. An economics history teacher once observed that countries that were truly de facto controlled by corporations often have a situation where corporations become part of the bureaucracy of the nation-state, a condition that harms their risk-taking, innovation, and profitability, usually leading to stagnation then destruction when the arrangement falls apart.

That said...

Golan2072 wrote:
Bit by bit, the corporations rebuilt parts of Earth. Not all of it; not even most of it. But the corporate arcologies and gated cities provided their residents with the amenities of modern life, unlike the almost universal poverty of the urban blight surrounding them. Rising in profits, the private sector turned its eye to research and development, as well as the industrialization of the solar system.


An interesting idea I've used is the concept that after some sort of semi-apocalypse situation in the future, the surviving government and corporation may deliberately redraw its borders and wall itself off. With increasing automation of everything, humans become increasingly obsolete - the Luddites weren't wrong, they were just before their time. Governments and corporations might realize in one fell swoop, they could solve the "social security crisis" ... by simply eliminating unproductives by leaving them outside the walls. Failure to pay income taxes, for instance, could be "punished" by simply kicking you outside the walls.

Of course, it's quite likely that those disenfranchised might set up their own goverments or something, which could be potentially pretty interesting...

Golan2072 wrote:
to gravitic control


As a 2300 fanboy, I have to pipe in: No hard sci-fi with gravity control.


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: History
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:47 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:41 am
Posts: 2149
Location: Yavne, Israel
epicenter wrote:
Not a bad setting idea.

Thanks!

epicenter wrote:
Golan2072 wrote:
The governments were mostly powerless to do anything meaningful to reconstruct the ruins of their nations; into this vacuum stepped the private sector, thrilled with the possibility of profit from reconstruction. Earth's collapsing nation-states no longer had the political power necessary to force taxes or regulations on the larger corporations, and these companies grew rapidly in size and power.


A poster on here, iirc it was Rust, pointed out that corporations don't really exist outside of governments. Without the scaffolding of a government to provide a stable economic environment, a society of investors, and ultimately its ability to take responsibility when companies screw up fiscally, corporations don't actually become the sort of daring/cutthroat entities we like to see in our evil corporations.

What's more likely than Cyberpunk-style "corporations running the universe" are "cartels of corporations that de facto control governments." Though interestingly enough, this arrangement isn't as stable as you'd think it'd be. An economics history teacher once observed that countries that were truly de facto controlled by corporations often have a situation where corporations become part of the bureaucracy of the nation-state, a condition that harms their risk-taking, innovation, and profitability, usually leading to stagnation then destruction when the arrangement falls apart.

The governments are still around, doing all the policing/infrastructure/governing stuff that isn't too profitable on Terra, and providing "flags of convenience" for off-world colonies. They still have militaries, though far less competent and far less well-funded than before. They do provide the legal framework for corporations to work in, but once you leave the Sol system, their actual power diminishes significantly.

Keep in mind that maintaining a proper military force and going to large-scale war are not profitable. Selling arms to governments who tax the population to do so is far more financially reasonable and very profitable. There are no corporate armies here - only security forces and some SWAT-type rapid-response anti-terrorist/anti-crime units. When the corporation wants some big-time shooting to be done, they get their friends in the government do so, and when they want more deniable violence to be performed, they hire mercenaries and privateers.

Politicians of course also engage in all sorts of "white elephant" prestiege projects; for example, the North-American Federation has recently (2129) build the carrier FNS (Federal Naval Ship) Ronald Reagan, using finicky and maintainance-heavy prototype-level experimental drives allowing for a J-2 2,000-ton hull. It has little use as the NAF and its rivals aren't going to all-out war anytime soon, but developing its drives, building the ship and maintaining it was a huge sinkhole for taxpayer money.

And yes, the larger monopolies control the governments pretty much.

epicenter wrote:
Golan2072 wrote:
Bit by bit, the corporations rebuilt parts of Earth. Not all of it; not even most of it. But the corporate arcologies and gated cities provided their residents with the amenities of modern life, unlike the almost universal poverty of the urban blight surrounding them. Rising in profits, the private sector turned its eye to research and development, as well as the industrialization of the solar system.


An interesting idea I've used is the concept that after some sort of semi-apocalypse situation in the future, the surviving government and corporation may deliberately redraw its borders and wall itself off. With increasing automation of everything, humans become increasingly obsolete - the Luddites weren't wrong, they were just before their time. Governments and corporations might realize in one fell swoop, they could solve the "social security crisis" ... by simply eliminating unproductives by leaving them outside the walls. Failure to pay income taxes, for instance, could be "punished" by simply kicking you outside the walls.

I like this very much! Thank you for the idea. This is also the source for the endless stream of colonists willing to risk the dangers of low passage to reach the colonies where conditions are (reportedly at least) better.

epicenter wrote:
Golan2072 wrote:
to gravitic control


As a 2300 fanboy, I have to pipe in: No hard sci-fi with gravity control.

Using LBB2 tech here, so gravity control is in, at least for the current verson.

_________________
We are but a tiny candle flickering against the darkness of our times.

Stellagama Publishing - Visit our Blog, Den of the Lizard King


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: Hard Space
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:07 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 8:42 pm
Posts: 2661
Location: Texas, USA
Actually, if you go back and read LBB 1-3, it never quite says that the M-Drive is a gravitic drive. It doesn't have fuel or anything, but it doesn't specifically state Gravitic either...
That might also make sense for why the thrusts are so low. 1G or 2G is as high as you are going to go without special equipment. Acceleration Couches will let you get a couple more G's sustained. 6G sustained probably requires very expensive support equipment and isn't done except in combat.

Similar to the Warp Drive on Star Trek, the ship can go to Warp 10, but often just travels at Warp 1 or Warp 2 (see the end of every episode).

I suggest that most ships don't have artificial gravity, but they have constant gravity. Fusion drives don't use any fuel, it is absorbed within the PP fuel (most of which is needed to power the M-Drive). Constant Thrust means "towers" for ships, not airplanes, so almost none of the deckplans will work - but LBB 1-3 don't have deckplans anyway...

I seem to remember something from the 1st Edition that the M-Drive produced a weapon equivalent to a Beam Laser or something ...

_________________
My friends call me Richard. You can call me Sir.
www.XmasDragon.com


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: Hard Space
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:18 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:41 am
Posts: 2149
Location: Yavne, Israel
I like this! Both reaction drives and no need for complex fuel calculations... Great idea! And yes, ships would be "towers" just like in The Expanse.

_________________
We are but a tiny candle flickering against the darkness of our times.

Stellagama Publishing - Visit our Blog, Den of the Lizard King


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: Hard Space
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:54 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:16 pm
Posts: 196
Cyborg IM1 wrote:
Actually, if you go back and read LBB 1-3, it never quite says that the M-Drive is a gravitic drive. It doesn't have fuel or anything, but it doesn't specifically state Gravitic either...
Doesn't matter: grav vehicles are explicitly TL8 (Book 3, pp. 15, 22-23).

Quote:
Fusion drives don't use any fuel, it is absorbed within the PP fuel (most of which is needed to power the M-Drive).
Something like this appears in Beltstrike -- but the implied exhaust velocity is completely unphysical (~30c).

Quote:
I seem to remember something from the 1st Edition that the M-Drive produced a weapon equivalent to a Beam Laser or something ...
The first edition of High Guard let you use the maneuver drives as fusion guns in an emergency, but the second edition rules explicitly overwrote and deleted that rule (among others).


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: Hard Space
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 1:24 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:07 pm
Posts: 992
Location: MA, USA
I never saw the rule about using the drives as a fusion gun but it makes sense.

Golan, I'd love to play in a game with you as I enjoy what you do for Traveller and would like to see how it works in game.

_________________
"Are you in charge here?"

"No, but I'm full of ideas!"

-----------------------------------------------------------
Also not a Dave.


Top
   
 Post subject: Re: Hard Space
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:07 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:41 am
Posts: 2149
Location: Yavne, Israel
Jame Rowe wrote:
I never saw the rule about using the drives as a fusion gun but it makes sense.

Golan, I'd love to play in a game with you as I enjoy what you do for Traveller and would like to see how it works in game.

Many thanks!

_________________
We are but a tiny candle flickering against the darkness of our times.

Stellagama Publishing - Visit our Blog, Den of the Lizard King


Last edited by Golan2072 on Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
   
 Post subject: Re: Hard Space
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:55 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2008 5:41 am
Posts: 2149
Location: Yavne, Israel
Very tentative map - similar to Visions of Empire and my old OV data (with modern additions) - but with less red dwarfs between Sol and Epsilon Eridani and Sirius for more nuanced interstellar expansion.

The blue border is the extent of first-generation colonization; the yellow of the second generation, and the red is the current (third) generation.

ImageHard Space by golan2072, on Flickr

_________________
We are but a tiny candle flickering against the darkness of our times.

Stellagama Publishing - Visit our Blog, Den of the Lizard King


Top
   
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic  Reply to topic  [ 43 posts ]  Go to page 1 2 3 4 5 Next

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Limited