WOIN Building my 24th century

MarkB

Hero
Our playtest group is getting together on Sunday for our first session, and I've been working on the bare bones of a scenario to run some characters through. I've chosen to make a fairly generic 24th-century setting, and thought I'd post some notes here, in the hopes that the setting might be useful to others - and I'd welcome advice for improving it.

Incidentally, I'm not sure how to make a thread appear on multiple boards, so if a friendly mod could make this visible both here and on the D&D and Pathfinder forum I'd appreciate it.

EDIT: Oh, there it is - I guess the NEW prefix auto-links it?

THE SETTING:

The Solar System and the Inner Colonies

There are four major inhabited regions within the solar System at this time:

Earth
Earth is still a melting-pot of widely differing cultures, with many independent political units, but it functions largely peacefully under the aegis of the United Earth Council, a mediating body formed of representatives from most of the world's nations. The UEC, not quite a world government and yet more than a mere negotiating body, acts as the interface between Earth and the worlds beyond.

Mars
Mars has been terraformed to the point where its sea-level conditions resemble those on the upper slopes of the Himalayas. "Native" Martians (human colonists who have been born and raised there) are sufficiently acclimated that they can live and work in its environment without great hardship, but the majority of the population still lives in pressurised habitats and use breath masks or haemoglobin-boosting supplements when venturing outdoors.
Mars is nominally an independent democracy, but in fact corruption is rife, and its ruling Council is dedicated purely to serving the interests of the mega-corporations and immensely-rich individuals who constitute 95% of the planet's land-owners. Life on Mars is reasonably good for the majority who can find work, but its social-care systems are fragmented and rudimentary at best, resulting in very high levels of poverty amongst its lowest classes.

Ganymede
Unlike Mars, there are no plans to terraform Ganymede - its atmosphere is far too thin. However, that atmosphere does largely consist of oxygen, making the moon ideally suited to support self-contained bases, and over time, a vast network of dwellings, mines, factories and other industrial and commercial units has spread across its face. This is no independent colony, though - almost all this construction is wholly-owned by the Io Mining Corporation, a company dedicated to exploiting the resources of Jupiter and its satellites. IoCorp is not a bad employer, and they keep their workers very well looked after, but Ganymede is very much a corporate town.

Titan
Still in the early phases of a centuries-long terraforming process, Titan is the flipside of Ganymede. Initially settled by a corporation which welcomed other settlers and companies, Titan has blossomed into a truly independent world, run by an odd hybrid system of democracy and stockholding in which the colonists effectively own their government as shareholders. Flush with the wealth of Saturn's bountiful natural resources, Titan has become the new centre of human art, culture and expansion - a fact which was not lost on Blancaster when they chose the name of their new starship line.


Beyond the Solar System
As pictured on page 92 of the NEW playtest doc, most of the local star systems have been explored and support at least some form of corporate exploitation, but only two of these star systems have been colonised to any meaningful extent. Nouveau Riviera, orbiting Tau Ceti, is a tropical hothouse world whose human colonists mainly occupy the narrow temperate belts just below the planet's poles. New Colorado, in the Epsilon Eridani system, is a cold world whose equatorial region supports a thriving colony.
These systems are collectively known as the Inner Colonies, and represent the last major effort of Earth-originated colonisation, fuelled by the invention of the FTL drive in the mid 22nd century. These days, they're only a few days' travel away by standard FTL vessels, and are as accessible to residents of the Solar System as countries on other continents were to travellers of the early 21st century.

Further afield
Beyond the local cluster, uninhabited systems with resources worth exploiting proved hard to find. In the early 23rd century, humanity made first contact with an alien race, the Borians, and learned from them of the major pre-existing cultures of the local galaxy, including the Ogrons, Felans and Venetians. It turned out that, beyond the local cluster, human space was closed off on one side by the territories of the Ogrons and Venetians, and on the other was bounded by the Koronis Rift. Not wishing to get into a shooting war, the already resource-stretched nations of Earth set aside their plans for further colonisation indefinitely.

It was the inhabitants of Mars and Titan who kicked off the next phase of human expansion, launching grand co-operative voyages of exploration into uncharted space. They delved beyond the Koronis Rift and found new star systems beyond, rich in resources and ripe for colonisation.

The Koronis Rift
This vast gas cloud, beginning around thirty light years hubward of Earth and stretching out for a further ninety light years, is considered to be possibly one of the most beautiful phenomena in the universe, though ironically it cannot be seen from the Solar system due to intervening clouds of darker interstellar matter. Shining in rainbow spleandour that puts most other nebulae to shame, it is a magnificent sight in the night sky of many planets. The Rift itself is empty and devoid of star systems, but the exotic materials that make up a significant portion of the cloud's composition rain down upon a number of star systems along the Rift's edge. Though none of these systems are considered habitable, they comprise many scientifically interesting - and visually astonishing - natural phenomena that have attracted many visitors over the decades.

The Outer Colonies
Beyond the Koronis Rift lies a star cluster rich in G-type stars hosting large numbers of planets. Seventeen such planets across fifteen star systems have so far been identified as sufficiently Earth-like to be worthy of colonisation efforts, and six of these have had colonies established in ventures spearheaded by the governments and corporations of Mars and Titan. The largest of these is Nova California, deliberately named in a (successful) attempt to attract emigrants from Earth. These colonies were deliberately built to grow towards independence, and are linked back to their sponsors in the Solar System largely by favoured-nation trading agreements and mutual-assistance pacts rather than via debts or taxation. As such, their relationship with their founders remains largely cordial.

The darker side
The wealth of the star systems of the Outer Colonies has attracted a lot of illicit attention, and piracy of vessels travelling to and from them is on the increase. There are rumours that crminal elements have started colonising worlds within the Outer Colonies system, or even in the Koronis Rift itself. A number of criminal syndicates are also known to have begun running rackets on the colonies, and some are growing in boldness and effectiveness to the point where some colonists worry that they'll become large enough to oust legitimate authority (or even that they may quietly have already done so). There are also tensions brewing between the older, less profitable Inner Colonies of the local cluster under Earth rule and the newer, more vibrant economy of the Outer Colonies. Some fear that Earth may move to take centre stage in human politics once more, by force if necessary, and whilst no major incidents have yet occurred, the powers of the Solar System are quietly arming themselves as the possibility of interstellar war slowly becomes more real.



The following is what I initially presented to my players as the adventure hook:

It's the year 2331, and most of the Solar System and a number of planets beyond have been colonised. Mars-based ship-builders Blancaster Inc. have recently unveiled their new Titan One class star cruiser, the largest FTL ship class ever built.

There are three ships of this class so far. The Titan 1-A was the prototype and testbed, but was so successful in trials that it's since been retrofitted as a heavy freight hauler. The Titan 1-B was built to military spec as the latest battleship for the Stellar Guard, who are deploying it as a powerful new weapon in the ongoing fight against rampant space piracy.

The third vessel of the class is built for commercial use, and has been outfitted as a luxury liner. Ready to launch from the New Southampton orbital shipyard, the vessel's maiden voyage will be an extended tour of some of the more picturesque star systems out along the Koronis Rift, and onward to the Outer Colonies, finally arriving at Nova California.

Whether as passengers or crew aboard this inaugural journey, you look forward to experiencing the wonders of this new vessel and the wider galaxy, certain that for all aboard this will be

A Voyage To Remember
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That looks like fantastic fun! Have you designed the ship? I'd love to see it!

What sort of plots/adventures are you planning?
 

MarkB

Hero
That looks like fantastic fun! Have you designed the ship? I'd love to see it!
I'm hoping we'll manage to do some collaborative ship-building as part of the first session. Visually, the ship will takes its cues from The Axiom from Wall-E.

What sort of plots/adventures are you planning?
The initial phase will be social, as the characters familiarise themselves with the ship and (hopefully) uncover a plot by pirates to sabotage the vessel ahead of an attack. That will lead into some ship-board combat, after which they'll have the resulting mess to clear up.

Unless they're very thorough they won't find the secondary sabotage in time, and events are likely to lead to their nick-of-time escape in a short-range shuttle as the ship is struck by an undetected asteroid. This will lead to a crash-landing upon a nearby world, a hike through hostile wilderness to a pirate base, the theft of a pirate vessel, and subsequent space battle to save the survivors aboard the crippled liner from pirate marauders.

I expect things won't go quite as I anticipate, though. :)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Well, I'll follow along anything you choose to share! If you need any help, don't hesitate to ask!
 

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