Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sci-Fi Campaign Brainstorming Part II

Last week, I started toying with the idea of creating a science fiction campaign setting. I specified some basic themes that I wanted to push, listed a few sources of inspiration, and asked advice on a name. Here's a quick summary of where we stand so far:
  • Game System is D20 - I'll start with Pathfinder classes and add feats, skills, and other tweaks from D20 Modern/Future
  • Firefly is a strong inspiration for the heroes and their role
  • Setting will have influences from many established sci-fi worlds
  • After quite a few suggestions, the name of the setting is still up in the air. The name of the solar system where the campaign begins will be called Alpha Enigma. The name is partly in homage to the conventional naming of solar systems and partly because its location in relation to Earth is a complete mystery. I might adopt this as the name of the campaign setting itself.
Over the last week, I've had more time to think about this little project, and the setting is starting to take some shape in my mind. A few more tidbits.

Galactic Races
  • Two alien races are the major movers and shakers in the solar system aside from humans. I'll come up with names for them at some point, but for now we'll just go by what the humans call them...
    • The first is a race of economic imperialists. They have a vast "empire," but only push into new worlds enough to exert control through trade. They have much more advanced technology than other races but refuse to share - making them the only race in Alpha Enigma with the ability to travel to other solar systems. Humans call them "space elves." Influences: British Empire, Naruni Enterprises, 40K Eldar
    • The second is a very warlike people who show glimpses of honor in their dealings with other races. They often serve as mercenaries to anyone strong enough and/or rich enough to maintain their respect. Humans sometimes call them "space orcs," a term they have come to see as a racial slur, and they react accordingly. Influences: 40K Orks, Krogan, Klingons
    • Humans are relative newcomers, the descendants of a research vessel that tinkered with some ancient alien technology. They got hurtled some unknown distance from home, and couldn't figure out how to get back. Without an available planet, they have colonized the asteroid belt. Influences: Star Trek Voyager, Stargate Universe
    • Many other races exist, but are exceedingly rare in Alpha Enigma. When they are encountered, it is usually a small group of merchants at the trading post.
    • There will also be a fourth "enemy" race that threatens all three, but I haven't decided where I'll run with that idea yet.
Race Relations
  • Humans and Orcs
    • Humans initially wanted to settle the orc planet, but the orcs squashed that idea quickly. Many humans resent the orcs for relegating them to the asteroid belt, but they don't have the economic, political, or military might to do anything about it. The orcs see humans as pests to be swatted when they get too annoying, but they haven't been given reason to eradicate them (even though they could).
  • Orcs and Elves
    • The arrival of the elves in Alpha Enigma sparked a short war, but the orcs were severely outgunned. The orcs were forced to sign an unfavorable treaty that has left them resentful and angry (similar to the Treaty of Versailles, but without the requirement to disarm their military). The elves see the orcs as brutes living on a brutal world. That brutal world is one that they wouldn't want for themselves, but it just so happens to be rich in several natural resources that they prize, and they don't have any problem letting the orcs do all the labor as long as they're making a killing off of the agreement.
  • Humans and Elves
    • The elves saw the arrival of humans in Alpha Enigma as an opportunity. Relations with the orcs were strained, and the desperate humans could serve as middle-men. The elves were happy to give the humans just enough resources to survive and be useful, but not enough to flourish. The humans resent the fact that the elves are so stingy about what knowledge and technology they are willing to share, and at least partially blame their situation on the elves' unwillingness to help them get back home. However, the elves are in many ways their lifeline, and they have to tread lightly.
Locations of Interest
  • An elf colony on a terraformed moon orbiting a remote gas giant.
  • A post-apocalyptic world that was once inhabited by an advanced race (probably the one that created the technology the humans stumbled upon before they arrived here), but that is now mostly overrun by orcs.
  • An asteroid belt that is sparsely settled and mined by humans. They started moving to the asteroids when their population outgrew their home ship.
  • A trading post where the three races meet on (supposedly) neutral ground. This will likely be the starting point for the campaign.

Even though some of these ideas are starting to line up together, I'm still just brainstorming here. Any thoughts, suggestions, and comments are always welcome!
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