athelind: (Sci Fi)
All right. The last two entries have had far too high a quotient of Your Obedient Serpent Griping About Stuff He Doesn't Like, and I am trying to avoid that.

Let's start kicking around constructive ideas, shall we?

"Q-Space" is an old idea I had for RPG-friendly FTL. I originally came up with it ages ago, when I was playing CHAMPIONS, and applied the Hero System conceit of different "Combat" and "Non-Combat" speeds to FTL Flight, the only movement power that didn't have it. When I realized the sociopolitical ramifications of Slow-Then-Fast FTL, I kept the idea on file, and actually used it in a GURPS SPACE game -- that game ran about twenty years back, so this idea's been kicking around for a long time.

The basic idea is that there are different regimes where The Rules Are Different:
  • C-Space is the regime where the speed of light is "c": i.e., "normal spacetime".

  • K-Space is "Slow FTL": about a light-year per month, for extended travel.

    • Everything is conveniently scaled for swooping sci-fi FTL battles, and looks like Jack Kirby drew it.

    • Masses (ships and planets) appear proportionally larger

    • Distances appear smaller

  • Q-Space is "Fast FTL": multiple light-years per DAYS, maybe.

K-Space is discovered first, and is Good Enough To Scout and Colonize. Ships are sent out with colonists in cold sleep and crews awake and active, since K-Space is full of Space Wedgies. With months or years of travel time between inhabited worlds, colonial cultures develop in relative isolation, and a "spacer culture" develops unto itself.

After a few centuries, reliable access to Q-Space is developed -- and suddenly, these isolated cultures are all in each other's backyards.

They do not all get along.

To complicate matters, access to Q-Space finally increases Humanity's sphere of influence enough that we finally brush up against Galactic Culture -- and as far as we can tell, the Galactics don't care about our internal affairs; they consider the species the significant level of organization.

I love this idea, honestly. It's a simple, straightforward way to get a lot of radically diverse human cultures interacting closely.

athelind: (Sci Fi)
The Threepenny Space Opera: An Introduction


This is the first in a series of posts under the head of The Threepenny Space Opera, in which Your Obedient Serpent bandies about ideas and concepts for science fiction RPG settings. These are primarily Notes To Myself, and the different concepts may or may not be compatible with each other in a single milieu.

I have been in a Star Wars Saga Edition game for the last four years, and, while I enjoy it a great deal, I confess that I enjoy it in spite of the setting, not because of it. It is hardly an original insight to assert that the Lucasian setting isn't "really" science fiction, but rather, fantasy with a thin veneer of technology; it has some truth to it, but that doesn't curtail my ability to enjoy a rip-roaring laser-adorned Hero's Journey.

If forced to pick a side when the line is drawn between Romanticism and Enlightenment, however, Your Obedient Serpent falls squarely in the latter camp.1 There are elements of Classic Space Opera that are Very Important To Your Obedient Serpent, and they can only be shoehorned into the Galaxy Far Far Away with great effort -- and are entirely absent from, say, Dark Heresy and many of the other starfaring settings offered to the RPG community.

I am rambling, which is nothing new. Let me therefore invoke that tool of PowerPoint abusers worldwide, and proffer a Bullet List:

  • I want a vision of a hopeful, optimistic future. Cautionary tales are an important part of the science fiction estate, but they aren't, contrary to Post-Modern thought, more "mature" or "sophisticated" or "valid". When all the visions of the future are dystopian, when the only message from tomorrow is "Beware", then where will we find the hope and inspiration to drive us forward?

  • I want to Explore Strange New Worlds. Even Star Trek: the Next Generation fell short on this one, keeping NCC-1701-D largely within the borders of the Federation, boldly staying where everyone had gone before; the movies, of course, abandon the notion of "exploration" entirely.

  • I want to Save the Day with SCIENCE!! I want a setting and a system where the Vulcan manning the sensors contributes as much to the adventure as the Dashing Space Pilot.

  • And on that note, I want a game that doesn't shy away from starships and space combat, while making sure that ALL the player characters can take active roles when the Space Pirates drop out of Netherspace, or the Negative Space Wedgie looms on the main screen. I want a game that's not afraid of starmaps, and where travel between the worlds is an opportunity, not an obstacle (or a quick screen-wipe).

There will be more forthcoming.

1 In the topsy-turvy backwards world of Literary Jargon, I am an unrealistic dreamer because I reject Romanticism.


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