Many science-fiction settings, though not the Star*Drive
core book, feature one or more civilisations beyond that which the standard heroes represent (henceforth, "us"), on a level in military power and social complexity that can't be ignored. Particularly fraught settings might have two large and belligerent neighbours with the heroes in a smaller and more precarious border state between them.
In more subtle settings (though, past a certain point, subtlety may not be a wholly desirable attribute of a game setting) the surrounding powers can't be assumed either to be constantly hostile or comfortably allied, but a bit of both at any time.
Neighbouring stellar powers might include
- humans, separated from us by some thousands of years of culture, through events the authors may or may not bother to explain,
- what I might call humanoids, biologically distinct from us yet similar enough in physical and social makeup that the conflicts, intrigues, business, personal relationships and so on between us aren't so different from politics between different human populations,
- creatures further distant in biology and behaviour, placing a noticeable discontinuity between their interests and ours, though some mutual understanding, trade and cooperation remains possible - I'll call these neutral aliens,
- the bugs, utterly inimical, who whenever we meet can be expected to try to consume humans (generally in a literal sense) and overrun human worlds. Other species who share a similar varelse moral position might include
- berserkers, sentient machines determined to wipe out all biological intelligences,
- the Borg, or sometimes biotechnological equivalents,
- the hordes, who don't always come with exoskeletons or hive-minds but otherwise are just as implacably hostile as Bugs,
- while having said that, sometimes arthropod intelligences are not Bugs but reasonable and civilised beings, effectively Humanoids,
- for completeness, extinct aliens, or mostly so, who we know from their ruins or devolved non-technological descendants (ruins of a different kind. I'm reminded of the ending to a story from years ago: "They are not our ruins. They are yours.")
Any interesting relationships or favourite examples? This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Dec 2 2015, 20:10