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Author Topic: [RPG I'm writing] Frontier (Sci-Fi)  (Read 1117 times)

Pelorus

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[RPG I'm writing] Frontier (Sci-Fi)
« on: June 11, 2008, 04:22:02 AM »
'm soliciting some feedback on 'Frontier', a sci-fi background I'm writing. I'm likely to use my own system (previously used for the 23rd Letter) for the game mechanics.

The setting background is presented in this category on my blog which may be a slightly unconventional way to do it but it's easy to manage/update for me.

http://www.lategaming.com/category/g...sign/frontier/

Influences for the game include Charles Stross, Iain M Banks, Star Trek - there's a little post-apoc in there, a lot of AI, not much in the way of resleeving and hopefully a heap of aliens.

Summary:
The basic setting assumes that players are highly skilled, highly motivated members of the Explorer division of Human Unity, a 'federation'-alike government. Their job is to make contact, explore gaseous anomalies and try not to get killed in the process.

Terms:
Human Unity - the Human 'empire' based upon very liberal concepts and including humanity and sentient/sapient synthetic intelligences called Experts. Natural humans are definitely transhuman but not generally posthuman - this may start to occur within the scope of the game.

FTL - based upon a discovered wormhole network which permits FTL travel though travel TO the wormhole within a solar system can take a long time. The key to wormhole travel was 'bought' by Human Unity from their first contact, an alien race known to Human Unity as 'The Traders'. There were a lot of items and concepts traded and the science used to catapult humanity beyond the solar system.

Aliens - they're as alien as I can imagine them. i describe a few. In the end, we can see the immense diversity on this one planet so there will likely be a considerable amount of convergent evolution though there are no 'humans with forehead ridges' or 'dark elf analogues'. There are alien races and one is even reputedly 'humanoid' (and the Traders dealt with us using 'androids') but for the most part they are as alien as this biologist can make them (while still making them 'possible')

Science - this is a tricky one. I'm not a physicist but I'm basing it on 'firm' physics. Sure - we have FTL (which immediately makes it not HARD science) but other areas are progressions as I see them. Some areas are vague i.e. I'm not going to talk about memory capacity, processor speeds because I've read sci-fi where these were defined and they were awfully dated within a decade (2300AD and High Colonies spring to mind). There's some science I'm deliberately leaving out because I don't think it's possible within the time and ethics constraints of the setting but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

Combat - ship/ship combat is very deprecated though there are obviously ship-borne weapons. The ability of a stellar society to hit planets with asteroids and the harm that a missile at even low relativistic speeds would do to a craft cannot be underestimated. In other words by the time you detect it, it's likely too late. Combat like this is handled by computers - thinking beings that can think down to the billionth of a second easily.
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MoonHunter

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[RPG I'm writing] Frontier (Sci-Fi)
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2008, 06:48:15 PM »
Before we begin, could I get "your working definition" of transhuman and  posthuman - as it applies to the game and the scope of the campaign

I need to know what we have to work with so I can work out the culture.

So we have allies of AIs.
They may or may not be mobile or have an organic shell.

Where are we with
*Uplifted animals?
*Genemodded Humans, so they better adapt to an alien environment. And would this be different than a biologically modified transhuman? (ANd do your transhumans use biomods?)
*Geneconstructs: morreau? Things made straight out
*AIs in a robot mode
*Nano Tech AIs (Saw the swarm stuff.. had to check)

Now   How many Exo-Aliens (as compared to the Endo-aliens above) has humanity had contact with?
What was the response to that contact?
What is the current relation with them?
Are there little grey guys? Or anything else out there from UFOlogy?
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dindenver

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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2008, 10:21:33 AM »
Matt,
  This seems like a decent setting. The question is, where is the conflict?
  What do the characters do in this setting?
  Is the game about Exploration? Discovering humanity through the whole Transhuman/posthuman evolution? Interstellar conflict?
  I find that good sci fi is about a message (look at Star Trek, few spis don't have an underlying moral to their story). What is your message?
  Also, don't get me wrong, I am not some kind of dirty hippy gamer, but in my mind, this is what sci fi is about, you know?
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Rob Lang

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[RPG I'm writing] Frontier (Sci-Fi)
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2008, 06:23:04 AM »
Dave asks a load of really good questions. I think you really need to answer those before you throw loads of Sci/Tech and so on together. It's a fair amount of effort but it's really worth it.

If the game is pure exploration, how are you going to assist the GM in creating all this new stuff? Exploration suggests that it's out of the ordinary for the game setting, so you can't just rely on background of the setting. For example, Star Trek  has all the Federation/Klingon/Romulan background and on top of that each episode throws something exploratory and new at the Enterprise. I've GM'd this sort of game before and it's a lot of work. The setting information should include a lot of help for GMs so they don't have a mountain of things to create just to play.

Pelorus

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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2020, 08:43:55 AM »
Quote from: MoonHunter;215797
Before we begin, could I get "your working definition" of transhuman and  posthuman - as it applies to the game and the scope of the campaign
I need to know what we have to work with so I can work out the culture.

Firstly, apologies. Real life (and I got married put all RPGdesign on the back burner. But hey....)

Transhuman is a progression along the road to posthuman. Transhumans in our society include people with cybernetic or biological implants. They can also be cognitive augments. I think of the average member of the Culture as my inspiration - not necessarily able to just 'gland' anything they want, but certainly as different to us as we are to cave dwellers. Longer lived. Healthier. Generally more resilient.

Posthumans are persons who have left humanity behind. My prose starts with some attempts to upload human consciousness which are generally unsuccessful.

Quote from: MoonHunter;215797
So we have allies of AIs.
They may or may not be mobile or have an organic shell.

Where are we with
*Uplifted animals?
*Genemodded Humans, so they better adapt to an alien environment. And would this be different than a biologically modified transhuman? (ANd do your transhumans use biomods?)
*Geneconstructs: morreau? Things made straight out
*AIs in a robot mode
*Nano Tech AIs (Saw the swarm stuff.. had to check)

There are different levels of AI, the top end (analogous to Culture Minds) are the Experts. Then we have specialists and roaches. They tend to be mechanically sleeved. Again, putting an AI into a n organic body is ethically problematic. Experts are not as godlike as Minds, though. Still very relatable. And no, I don't have much truck with uplifted animals, there's no specific gene mods for humans for alien environments. It's a society with strong morals.

And there are nanotech/swarmtech and then there's the Swarm (independent, autonomous extraterrestrial machine cultures controlled by a central hive-fabric).


Quote from: MoonHunter;215797
Now   How many Exo-Aliens (as compared to the Endo-aliens above) has humanity had contact with?
What was the response to that contact?
What is the current relation with them?
Are there little grey guys? Or anything else out there from UFOlogy?

I'm writing more about that. Snakes of Rist is the first and most humanlike in outlook. I just commissioned an artist to render me out some drawings for these. A post will be made on the blog shortly.

My aliens are going to be as alien as I can make them. Which judging by this ex-biologists perception of life on Earth, will have to be pretty effing alien.
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Heard of the cult game the 23rd Letter? No? What about the humourous and dark Zombi? No? The funny and anime-inspired SNCC? No? The deeply religious Testament? No? The magical and blasphemous Creed? No. The hyped but unfinished Qabal? No? Where have you been? I'm famous! Nevermind...I'm writing another game....

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Pelorus

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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2020, 08:51:48 AM »
Quote from: dindenver;218459
Matt,
  This seems like a decent setting. The question is, where is the conflict?
  What do the characters do in this setting?
  Is the game about Exploration? Discovering humanity through the whole Transhuman/posthuman evolution? Interstellar conflict?
  I find that good sci fi is about a message (look at Star Trek, few spis don't have an underlying moral to their story). What is your message?

There are a couple of ways to explore the setting.

1. in space - exploration, contact, xenoarchaeology, following the path of the Traders, exploring the hints and mysteries of the Encyclopedia we were traded, contact operations
2. on earth - exploring the wilderness, rescuing folks from the war zones, dealing with the pesky NeoAmericans, restoring Earth.

And there's loads in between - from mapping wormholes to keeping tabs on colonies. Finding the one thing that the Traders want so they will give you the thing you need to resolve the problem at hand.

Quote from: dindenver;218459
Also, don't get me wrong, I am not some kind of dirty hippy gamer, but in my mind, this is what sci fi is about, you know?

Good questions (you dirty hippy!).

This is a dirty hippy commie pinko leftie game.
There's a strong message about equality and justice, a strong morality on the environment.
They're more interventionist than Star Fleet but also less weaponised.
Strong messages on self-reliance to help yourself but when you get there, turn around and help others up.
Aliens are alien - so there's a strong line on understanding and acceptance. This isn't about a human with a weird forehead wrinkle and the moral dilemma of why they cut off one foot off their males, but rather how can humanity assert itself as an example of best behaviour without really pissing off species that look at us as juveniles (or as food).
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Pelorus

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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2020, 08:55:27 AM »
Quote from: Rob Lang;218807
Dave asks a load of really good questions. I think you really need to answer those before you throw loads of Sci/Tech and so on together. It's a fair amount of effort but it's really worth it.
If the game is pure exploration, how are you going to assist the GM in creating all this new stuff? Exploration suggests that it's out of the ordinary for the game setting, so you can't just rely on background of the setting. For example, Star Trek  has all the Federation/Klingon/Romulan background and on top of that each episode throws something exploratory and new at the Enterprise. I've GM'd this sort of game before and it's a lot of work. The setting information should include a lot of help for GMs so they don't have a mountain of things to create just to play.

The route to creating stuff for the beginning GM will be definitely the Encyclopedia. A big list of things out there - worlds devastated by wars, races which have all but sublimed, rumours of humanoid life, how to get there, how to deal with alien craft you meet. There will be many many pages of this as well as heaps of content to help the GM understand the earth they are leaving behind just as much as what's ahead. Now, how to do that without literally making someone read an Encyclopaedia? That's the trick. I'm working on that right now with an artist. Star Trek has the advantage of the TV series and a myriad of books and comics. The Culture has the advantage of several novels.

It's a work in progress now I have time to work on it.
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Pelorus

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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2020, 09:01:14 AM »
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Heard of the cult game the 23rd Letter? No? What about the humourous and dark Zombi? No? The funny and anime-inspired SNCC? No? The deeply religious Testament? No? The magical and blasphemous Creed? No. The hyped but unfinished Qabal? No? Where have you been? I'm famous! Nevermind...I'm writing another game....

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David Johansen

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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2020, 09:48:57 AM »
I'd suggest reading some of the Star Fire novels by David Weber and Steve White before doing the worm hole web thing.  All the massive and brutal warp point assaults against fortified and mined jump points.
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Pelorus

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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2020, 05:58:26 PM »
Quote from: David Johansen;1140989
I'd suggest reading some of the Star Fire novels by David Weber and Steve White before doing the worm hole web thing.  All the massive and brutal warp point assaults against fortified and mined jump points.


Ordered the first two of them (though I'm a little sceptical of massive space wars)
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David Johansen

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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2020, 08:06:59 PM »
I've played with a similar set up, for an exploration game.  Drew upon Star Fire New Empires a bit.  I'll suggest a solution for the warp point fortifications.  A hundred thousand kilometer uncertainty zone where-in sensors don't function around the worm hole.  No warning of intrusion until ships breach the perimeter.
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Pelorus

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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2020, 06:30:58 AM »
Quote from: David Johansen;1141323
I've played with a similar set up, for an exploration game.  Drew upon Star Fire New Empires a bit.  I'll suggest a solution for the warp point fortifications.  A hundred thousand kilometer uncertainty zone where-in sensors don't function around the worm hole.  No warning of intrusion until ships breach the perimeter.


I was reading just this morning on how big space is. How the asteroid belt is much more sparse than people realise. That space has a lot of ... space.

Minefields in space are a weird legacy I think. They have to be motile, they have to have sensors, they'd need to be pretty big (although I was at a security briefing two months ago which explained how small an explosive that can obliterate a car can be).

And then there's the difficulty in fortifying. I mean, it's a space station that needs resupply, the only effective weapons are AI controlled missiles. All very limiting. And one of the best types of conversations.
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David Johansen

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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2020, 02:25:55 PM »
Unless ships have to come through a wormhole that's only a couple thousand meters across.  Space mines generally need to be self activating missiles that are left sitting near a target site.  Resupply depends heavily on the drives available.  If you've got reactionless thrusters that can manage 1G acceleration it's far easier to resupply bases than if you're restricted to realistic velocities and fuel loads.
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Pelorus

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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2020, 04:30:10 AM »
Which is fair comment if the wormhole is like Deep Space 9. A persistent location with a beautiful light display.

Mea culpa. I'd not explained how my wormholes manifest.
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David Johansen

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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2020, 09:57:36 AM »
If they're not a fixed location or fixed orbit or ancient alien gate that would go a long ways to avoiding the problem.

Actually, fixed location worm holes that don't move relative to stars might be interesting too, though I think one of the ramifications would be that they're almost always out in deep space.
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