Thursday, April 22, 2010

Campaign reboot...again

It seems I do this every couple of months, make wholesale changes to the space horror campaign I am planning. I don't know if it's my fussy nature or late-onset ADD setting in, but I just haven't been able to incorporate everything I want into one package. Although, I think I at least know what I want in the campaign.

1. A game system that is not too onerous, but permits enough rules depth to allow for sophisticated equipment and vehicle design, as well as tactical combat.

2. A game setting that can readily incorporate several design features, namely, a Dyson sphere, mechs, robots, artifical intelligence and cosmic horror. I want some elements of Septimus and some of AT-43.

With the demise of West End Games, it's clear there will be no more support for the d6 system, so before I have to backtrack too much, I am making the decision to go with Traveller as my system of choice. With a summer release of Cthonian Stars announced, it seems to be pretty much a no-brainer. Now, for a little bit of background for my campaign:

The first half of the 21st century saw great upheaval in the geopolitical situation on Earth. The economic collapse of 2008 and the decades long debt crisis left America weakened and insular. While some countries did what they could to help, namely the Anglosphere and Japan, America simply could not maintain its economic and military standing in the world. Europe was even worse off, as country after country defaulted on its loans. To add to the misery, the long-feared global oil shortage began to be felt in the 2020s. The Middle East oil fields began to run dry. Unconventional oil supplies became more important and the countries who had the oil became targets for those that did not. Central Asia was the worst battleground as Russia, China and India contested for control of what oil remained.

For half a century, the world writhed in an orgy of deprivation and violence. Eventually, the nations of the world had exhausted themselves and new technologies were developed to replace oil, which was all but gone anyway. However, the world was changed and it was not a peaceful, happy place. The Chinese had settled their differences with Russia as the communists were able to regain control. A new collectivist superpower, the Red Blok, was born. Russian and Chinese troops were able to conquer much of Eurasia, with the exception of India and western Europe. Only the remaining nuclear arsenals of the US, Britain and France prevented even greater conquests.

Meanwhile, the US had finally climbed back up from its collapse, but like so much of the world, it too had changed. Several secessionist movements had arisen and had successfully achieved independence. Rather than complete balkanization, however, the disparate parts of the old USA, combined with several other nearby states including Canada and Mexico agreed to form an alliance called the United Nations of the Americas or UNA. Most other countries in the western hemisphere would eventually join the UNA and a second global superpower was born. A new Cold War began.

By this time, nuclear fusion had begun to replace fossil fuels as the main source of the world's energy. Among other things, it allowed humanity to once again look to the heavens. Exploration and colonization of the solar system followed. Asteroid and comet mining provided for much of the material needs of humanity. For a century, humans expanded and multiplied until the population offworld was in the hundreds of millions and always, the rivalry between the Red Blok and the UNA remained.

When FTL travel was developed in the 23rd century, the space race took to the stars. Competition for worlds was fierce. Few were even remotely suitable for human habitation, even with massive technological support. It seemed even the galaxy itself was not big enough to allow mankind to live in peace. Then they found Septimus.

For nearly three centuries, humans had explored space. In all that time, they had never found any evidence of life beyond a few ambiguous microfossils. Suddenly, a marvel of engineering so astounding, the most advanced science of the day could not explain how it could even exist, let alone how to construct it. Septimus is a Dyson Sphere approximately one astronomical unit in radius. It was studied for decades by both Red Blok and UNA teams. Eventually, a sort of transdimensional gate was discovered and robotic exploration teams were sent in. None of the teams returned or communicated back. Futher study followed and still nothing was discovered about the interior. Some 35 years after the initial discovery, a fringe religious group called the Septimus Extant commandeered a ship and was able to enter the sphere. When nothing more was heard from them, they were presumed lost. However, a few years later, a signal was detected eminating from the sphere. It was from the Extant. They claimed to have set up a colony inside the sphere and that the interior was perfect for human colonization. The one problem was that they had not discovered a means to leave. This didn't matter to many. The interior surface of Septimus was so large, it could easily house the entire human population of the galaxy with ample room to spare. Settlers from both Red Blok and UNA worlds began streaming in, eager to set up colonies in the vast new frontier. Still, some questioned what was the reason for Septimus. Who built it? Where are they now? Why is its interior so conducive to human life? Why can you enter, but not leave? Is it some sort of trap?



Obiri said...

which version of traveller?

Rognar said...

I was going to go with Megatraveller, but I picked up Mongoose Traveller this week and I like it a lot. So, I'm going with it. The basic rules are the same, as far as the players are concerned. But from the GM standpoint, the newer version is easier to use.