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Brainstorming a “Kitchen Sink“ Sci-Fi campaign


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Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I had an idea once about stealing the idea of mechanical monks from Terry Pratchett and using them as the wandering Paladins (sans satire). Toss in some flavor from RS Bakker's Consult from his Second Apocalypse books, so hidden among us with 'an agenda' to inculcate some paranoia, and it seemed pretty solid. I like the idea of wandering Paladins that aren't just reflavored western gunslingers (although that idea obviously has legs too).
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
...without going full-on RIFTS.

I was struck by the campaign design bug while participating in the Star Wars “Mind share” thread. I don’t want to play in or run any of the major Sci-Fi settings out there, but participating in something that echoes them could be fun.

So, for instance, while I might not want to mess around with the Clone Wars, Jedi Vs Sith, and so forth, I totally want some form of lightsaber or monofilament swords in the game. Stargates might exist, but not necessarily any of the aliens posing as gods. Other lost megastructures and tech from prior stelkar empires might pop up as well, be they from Bab5, Defiance or Larry Niven’s Known Universe.

Yes, there would be some form of sentient machines, possibly even malevolent. But a biotechnologicslly proficient race like Steven Donaldson’s Amnion might get the nod instead of the Borg of Star Trek.

What kind of elements do you think would be good to yoink from Sci-Fi movies, TV shows, comics or stories & novels?
Do you have a system you plan to use? That may (or may not) impact your choices...
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Do you have a system you plan to use? That may (or may not) impact your choices...
My default is HERO. I’ve yet to find a concept I can’t model in it. That doesn’t mean it’s the system this would actually be run in. I have designed stuff in HERO and retooled it for running in other systems before to accommodate my players.

But right now, I’m not actively gaming, so falling back into my default is OK.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Aargh. Mechanical Monks is Douglas Adams, not Terry Pratchett, from Adams' Dirk Gently books.. Mea Culpa. I realized it as soon as I read my post again.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
One little non-Sci-fi element I definitely plan on including is to nod to the Pilgrim Adepts of MZB’s Lythande. The “paladins” will have a blue star symbol as their ”badge/ID/emblem” and their organizational name will be chosen from the names of a Class O star. Said star may even be their base of operations.
I think I have it: the blue supergiants Alnitak, Alnilam and the blue giant Mintaka are the stars system comprising Orion’s Belt. I think Knights of Orion has a cool ring to it. Their emblem will be a trio of blue stars in a line.

Orion has a lot of blue stars and nebulae in it, and many of the “stars“ in orion are multi-star systems. Somewhere in that area is their base of operations, but only they know where. That’s assuming it isn't mobile and/or decentralized.

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Edit: perhaps Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka are names for subdivisions within the organization. Mintakan Order: command; Alnitak Order: R&D, Tech, Support; Alnilam Order: Field Agents

Loosely speaking, of course. These KoO spend a lot of time solo and far afield.
 
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aramis erak

Adventurer
Original Battlestar Galactica Cylons were mostly machine with some organic parts (leaders seemed to have more organic). A similar robot race, which is powerful but not an overwhelming threat, would make a good "edge of the map" civilization. Maybe - like Star Trek's V'ger machine planet - they are chiefly seeking information.
Not quite. Per the Marvel adaptation of Saga of a Star World, the organic Cylons were all dead. The Imperious leader wore the preserved skin of an original Cylon.
The Centurions were pure machine. The IL series (including Lucifer) were implied to have some organic elements, but not stated as such.
A damaged to deactivation Cylon was repaired in one episode of the show by locals, who used it as a bully...
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
I really like the Space Marine fortress monasteries from 40K, that could be a good way to go for the Knights of Orion. Maybe an ancient alien starship thats now the sacred trust of the order. Maybe containing one of those mechanical entities you were talking about upsteam. Or maybe the ship is the entity.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I really like the Space Marine fortress monasteries from 40K, that could be a good way to go for the Knights of Orion. Maybe an ancient alien starship thats now the sacred trust of the order. Maybe containing one of those mechanical entities you were talking about upsteam. Or maybe the ship is the entity.
Don’t know anything about Games Workshop’s stuff beyond their minis and their CCG.

Because of the nature of long distance travel in this setting, the KoO HAVE to controlled access to at least one gate, if not multiples, even if they are not technically an empire/federation, etc. If the gates are sentient members of the race that built them, perhaps they have partnered with the KoO, supplying them with refuge, tech and info. Hmmmm...IOW, sort of like the Oans & Green Lanterns.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
The fortress monasteries i was thinking of in particular are like massive mobile fortress ships that house the main strength of a space marine chapter, including the initiates, relics, manufactories and the like. I was picturing a sentient fortress that somehow formed the spiritual heart, if not leadership, of your knightly order. Maybe something in a repository of knowledge sentience that needed to be kept from most races, but was also used to help the Knights do ... whatever is it they do.

It would be cool if their stomping grounds were some sort of nexus of gates and relics from your lost civilization.
 

Eltab

Hero
The stars in Orion are very big and very bright ... and very far away. Saying "We are from Orion" could be a form of misdirection. The Orion Constellation is visible and recognizable across a large cone in the galaxy. The Knights' resource base is in that general direction but not around those particular stars. It might be behind / inside a nebula or dust cloud, as seen from Earth / "civilized space".

If your gates are like Starfire (warp links may connect nearby stars or may go clear across the map) the homeworld could be anywhere in the night sky.

The true home base could lie in the direction of Lepus (the bunny rabbit hiding near the Hunter's feet) - because a bunny is cute cuddly and harmless, everybody knows that. Except for Monty Pythons. But Monty Pythons are paranoid; who really expects... umm ...
 

Zardnaar

Legend
You could have the precursors still around.

1. Their civilization collapsed. Survivors lack ftl/gates. It's not known the survivors are actually the ancients.

2. They are reclusive if powerful. Once again it's not known they are the precursors.

3. A precursor ship is floating around. Perhaps it is self aware but it can function as a jump gate itself.


I would probably give the galaxy really slow hyperdrives. The gates are very convenient however.

Depends if you want the current powers that be to be able to build new ones.

The current set up could also just be a hub and each gate system is isolated with a mega gate or whatever linked to a central area but the inter hub system has collapsed.

If the precursors are still around they gave their own private hub cut off from the "galactic" hub.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The fortress monasteries i was thinking of in particular are like massive mobile fortress ships that house the main strength of a space marine chapter, including the initiates, relics, manufactories and the like. I was picturing a sentient fortress that somehow formed the spiritual heart, if not leadership, of your knightly order. Maybe something in a repository of knowledge sentience that needed to be kept from most races, but was also used to help the Knights do ... whatever is it they do.

It would be cool if their stomping grounds were some sort of nexus of gates and relics from your lost civilization.
I had a similar idea for their base(s) in mind myself.

Also ringworlds or a dyson sphere.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The true home base could lie in the direction of Lepus (the bunny rabbit hiding near the Hunter's feet) - because a bunny is cute cuddly and harmless, everybody knows that.
That’s a pretty good idea, I have to say. Very...”not being seen”.

A number of writers (Greg Bear, for certain) have noted that certain advanced cultures- recognizing the danger represented by other advanced cultures- would actively conceal their existence as much as possible. Why not an organization like the KoO?
 

Nobby-W

Far more clumsy and random than a blaster
That’s a pretty good idea, I have to say. Very...”not being seen”.

A number of writers (Greg Bear, for certain) have noted that certain advanced cultures- recognizing the danger represented by other advanced cultures- would actively conceal their existence as much as possible. Why not an organization like the KoO?
Assumng that their job is to wander about as knights-errant, righting wrongs and suchlike, then they're going to have a hard time concealing their existence, which will cause folks to reason that they must have a headquarters somewhere. After that, it's only a matter of time before somebody starts searching and eventually finds it. Things are far easier to conceal if folks don't know it exists in the first place. As another example, the Templars pissed off a lot of folks (largely by getting into investment banking) and then eventually got shut down by Philip IV because their assets were so valuable that they didn't have enough warm bodies to defend them.

That Hospitalars actually still exist as a charitable organisation run by the RC church. The have a strong claim to being the oldest charitable nonprofit in existence.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Assumng that their job is to wander about as knights-errant, righting wrongs and suchlike, then they're going to have a hard time concealing their existence, which will cause folks to reason that they must have a headquarters somewhere. After that, it's only a matter of time before somebody starts searching and eventually finds it. Things are far easier to conceal if folks don't know it exists in the first place. As another example, the Templars pissed off a lot of folks (largely by getting into investment banking) and then eventually got shut down by Philip IV because their assets were so valuable that they didn't have enough warm bodies to defend them.

That Hospitalars actually still exist as a charitable organisation run by the RC church. The have a strong claim to being the oldest charitable nonprofit in existence.
Very true, but I didn’t mean to imply the Orions would try to conceal their existence, just their home location.

Like the Templars, the Orions WOULD have many enemies. Unlike the Templars, the Orions would actively conceal their bases. (To be fair, the Templars didn’t have as many options, though.)

Misdirection from Lepus to Orion is a cheap safeguard. Not the only thing going for them, but a good starting point.
 

MarkB

Legend
Very true, but I didn’t mean to imply the Orions would try to conceal their existence, just their home location.

Like the Templars, the Orions WOULD have many enemies. Unlike the Templars, the Orions would actively conceal their bases. (To be fair, the Templars didn’t have as many options, though.)

Misdirection from Lepus to Orion is a cheap safeguard. Not the only thing going for them, but a good starting point.
Reminds me of the first Men in Black movie - "the Galaxy is on Orion's belt." The MiBs dismiss the claim on the grounds that the constellation of Orion is far too small to hold an entire galaxy, but it turns out that they're right for exactly the wrong reasons - it's actually an extremely tiny galaxy, that's dangling from the collar of a cat named Orion.
 

Nobby-W

Far more clumsy and random than a blaster
Very true, but I didn’t mean to imply the Orions would try to conceal their existence, just their home location.

Like the Templars, the Orions WOULD have many enemies. Unlike the Templars, the Orions would actively conceal their bases. (To be fair, the Templars didn’t have as many options, though.)

Misdirection from Lepus to Orion is a cheap safeguard. Not the only thing going for them, but a good starting point.
A galaxy is a big place, so one could conceal bases in all sorts of remote locations, although any large conspiracy is going to leak (q.v. Star Wars), so you had better be very well hidden and able to bug out to some other location on short notice. See the Eina-Afa arc from Schlock Mercenary for another example of a hidden base. As a bonus, you get the most elaborate setup for a fart joke in the history of science fiction.


Also worth checking out (if you haven't already) for many good ideas for aliens and a lot of cool stuff including some great A.I. characters and an original take on transhumanism. Be warned, though. It went every day for 20 years (over 7,000 episodes) and just finished recently. The rabbit hole goes very deep.
 
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MarkB

Legend
One good option for hiding a base, especially if your setting's FTL uses some kind of hyperspace rather than realspace, is not to place it within any star system, instead putting it in the depths of interstellar space. So long as you minimise its emissions and make it look like nothing more than a stray piece of Oort Cloud debris, the chances against anyone stumbling upon it are literally astronomical.
 

MarkB

Legend
One good option for hiding a base, especially if your setting's FTL uses some kind of hyperspace rather than realspace, is not to place it within any star system, instead putting it in the depths of interstellar space. So long as you minimise its emissions and make it look like nothing more than a stray piece of Oort Cloud debris, the chances against anyone stumbling upon it are literally astronomical.
Actually, having thought it through, a better alternative would be to have a semi-mobile base, and not even worry about hiding your emissions. You relocate once every 3-4 years, but always to a location at least 5 lightyears from the nearest star system. That way nobody can see where you are, only where you were.
 

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