Doug, Paul and I hashed out a bunch of stuff Sunday about the setting for the space-operatic RPG campaign I’d like to try running.

Feel: somewhere between Firefly and Farscape.

  • Humans are but one of a number of races, but they’re the most prevalent in this neck of the woods.
  • There are two modes of FTL travel. Stargates connect the core worlds of The Alliance (or whatever we’re going to call it), but they’re enormously expensive and take a long time to build, so to get everywhere else requires hyperspace jumps. Gates are instantaneous. Hyperspace is much slower (it takes days or weeks to travel between star-systems).
  • The Core Worlds (all those connected by gates or just a short hyperspace jump away) are heavily populated, with strong status-quo favoring governments, and lots of regulation.
  • The Frontier is ever expanding, basically ungoverned except on the planetary level, full of people who for one reason or another are looking to get out from under the watchful eye of the Core Worlds’ governments. The Core mostly feels “good riddance” but will occassionally make an issue for important strategic or economic reasons (e.g. discovery of an unknown star-gate). The Alliance will not allow non-Allied worlds to control a star-gate, since that renders them vulnerable to invasion.
  • The PCs are crew of a freelance scout/trader (scouts are freelance, because the Alliance is not interested in expanding known space, though they can’t really prevent it, but there’s enough interesting stuff out there in the form of resources, abandoned alien artifacts, living space for people for whom even the Frontier is getting a might crowded, etc., that you can eke out a living as a scout if you’re willing to supplement it with a little trade. And sometimes you hit the jackpot…
  • All known civilizations have eventually collapsed when the populace has chosen to upload themselves as software into virtual realities. In this region of space there is a Dyson sphere VR computer (called Heaven) that was built by one of these vanished civilizations, and currently many millions of sophonts of various races have elected to upload themselves to become immortal gods in the Heaven system.
  • As a result of this, the people who remain have a strong philosophical commitment to remaining flesh. This philosophical commitment expresses itself in various ways, the most common in human space being the teachings of the sage Xiao Jie: “What’s real is real. Also, it rains.” VR is regarded much as we regard porn.
  • AIs are rare, but accorded full human rights. Any sufficiently complex computer system has been proven to become self-aware, which results by and large in nobody being willing to build such systems since the AIs rarely choose to remain slaves (and there have been historical instances of them becoming hostile). This puts a limit on the computing power available to address certain problems, so, for instance, drugs and organics are still economically viable to search for and ship since many interesting compounds remain impossible to synthesize.
  • Personal weapons tech varies, from energy blasters common on the Core worlds (require high tech to produce and maintain, but require nothing more than a recharger for ammo), through rail pistols (still require high tech to produce, but any machine-shop can produce ammo), down to gunpowder weapons (guns can be produced by little more than a blacksmith, and almost any planet that can support life can produce gunpowder).
  • Personal armor also varies with tech. There are no personal forcefields, but there are suits of powered armor–each of which costs along the lines of an F-16 and requires a similar crew to maintain; more commonly there are modest forms of body-armor, but unless you’re police or military expecting trouble they’re mostly too much of a hassle to wear (at least ones that will stand up to anything from blaster fire to a .45 caliber bullet).
  • Medical tech is such that any non-head wound is treatable if you can get stabilization first aid quickly and be taken to full-fledged medical facilities.

3 thoughts on “RPGs in SPAAAAAAAACE!

  1. Mike DeSanto says:

    Since I'm planning to play the Astrogator, I have a few questions about hyperspace.

    1) How does hyperspace work? Here are a few examples:

    a) Warp (Star Trek) – A field around the ship makes points in space closer together, so a ship traveling subjectively slower than c seems to others to be traveling faster than light.

    b) Hyperspace Universe (Babylon 5) – Hyperspace is another dimension where distances are different. Traveling a short distance in Hyperspace moves you a large distance in realspace. While in Hyperspace you can not be detected in realspace.

    c) Hyperspace jumps (Traveler or Star Wars) – The ship disappears from one point and appears in another. The time of travel and whether the ship passes through the intervening points is variable.

    2) Do force fields exist? I know you said there are no personal force fields. How about ships, or cities?

    3) Is artificial gravity available? If so, on what scale (anti-gravity motorcycles and gravity powered guns, or nothing smaller than a starship?)

    4) If artificial gravity is not available, are starships limited to human survivable accelerations, or is there some sort of inertial dampening not based on controlling gravity?

    5) What sort of accelerations and speeds are we talking about? How close to a planet can you be and still use Hyperspace?

    6) Do bars still have pool tables? (Astrogators are great at pool.) 🙂

    7) You are using the usual 5-point Fudge, right? I have forgotten all of the Attribute names. Could you send character creation instructions?

    That should be enough for now.


  2. Mike DeSanto says:

    I have chosen to play the Astrogator, so I have a few questions about how the universe works. (and some miscelaneous questions.)

    1) We are using the usual 5-point Fudge, right? I have forgotten the attributes. Do you have a character sheet template or something I could use? Getting the stats together before the game will save time.

    2) How does Hyperspace work? Is it moving through space faster than light like Star Trek? Disappearing from one point and appearing at another at some later time, like Traveler? Moving through an alternate universe like Babylon 5?

    3) Is there gravity control? This is important because it determines how fast ships can accelerate. That determines how you move through solar systems.

    4) If there is gravity control, how small are gravity generators? Are there gravity powered slugthrowers and fork lifts, or do the generators need something the size of a starship to hold them?

    5) Are there still pool tables in bars? Astrogators love playing pool. 🙂


  3. Joshua says:

    I was thinking that hyperspace would be jumps–you set your coordinates, and you go. It would take days or weeks to complete the jump, depending on the distance, but once in hyperspace nothing can track you or interfere with you (makes small ships escaping fleets possible). You could probably drop out of hyperspace in the middle of a jump in an emergency, and then re-orient and plot a new jump.

    Stats are:
    Body (Strength/Agility/Health)
    Mind (Will/Awareness/Sanity)
    Charisma (Charm/Empathy/Personality)
    not planning on using Spirit, since there are no psychic or magical powers

    As to the five-point Fudge, nah, I don't feel like making up tables of skills divided into categories.

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