Brainstorming for a New D20 Sci-Fi Campaign Setting

We've been playing Pathfinder regularly since March, so I've had a steady stream of fantasy in my gaming, but once in a while I get the science fiction bug. My gaming time is limited, so when I have a campaign running, I typically hyper-focus on it so that I'm prepared each week... but as much as I love dragons and wizards (and drow), I still feel like I'm missing out on aliens, giant robots, and laser guns.

This month, Andrew is taking over the GMing duties while I focus on the start of the new school year, and that means I won't be preparing for Pathfinder sessions each week. While I'll have much less time on my hands, what time I do have I'll be able to spend a little more freely. Part of it I'll still be using to refocus our Pathfinder campaign, but I've got some sci-fi adventure ideas that I want to play around with as well.

Here's a little bit of my initial brainstorming...
  • I want to build my own campaign setting rather than playing in someone else's.
    • I want to run a D20 system game (mainly because I know it well and I don't want to take the time to learn something new), but I don't want D20 Modern's ridiculously boring base classes.
    • Creating my own player's handbook sounds like too much work, but might be worth it... and with a lot of OGL content, the work has already been done.
    • I want this to be grittier than my old Spectrum Shock setting, and I need a name that doesn't suck.
  • Inspiration? Fallout, Phase World, Mass Effect, Firefly, Dragonstar, Starcraft, Warhammer 40K
  • What do the heroes do? In Firefly-style, the heroes are smugglers/rebels/outlaws who aren't always on the right side of the law.
  • What is the conflict? Several factions compete for resources, plus there will be one or more inhuman "force of nature" can't-be-bargained-with enemies (like the Zerg, Tyrannids, Reavers, or Reapers). Amid all this, the heroes just need to complete the next job and make sure that at the end of the day, they're still flying.
  • Where is the action? I want to start very small and branch out from there, only creating what I need.
    • Maybe the group is stranded in a war-ravaged (post-apocalyptic?) solar system so only a few locations need to be detailed? 
    • Or maybe a dimensional hub like Phase World or Sigil so that characters can travel all over the place but always return to a central location?
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