Good neighbours , need good fences in Homemade Settings, World Building & Galaxy Construction
uncle_jimbo Dec 2 2015, 09:21 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
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
derek_holland Dec 2 2015, 18:50 Group: Heroes, Master of Mutant Creation Quote Post
On a small scale, Dawning Star* may be useful for those who want multiple species in one system. Remove the Vassi threat and it becomes a much more political setting as there are 4-5 space faring species plus the landlubbers and AIs. Humans find themselves fractured and different groups may ally with different aliens.


* The supplement that covers the system: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/12439/Dawnin...ios-Rising?it=1
uncle_jimbo Dec 2 2015, 20:02 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Dawning Star's vaasi exemplify a type that is in several senses relevant to Star*Drive: servitors, who commonly interact with the heroes' polity in one of the ways mentioned, but are only a front for a very different ruling power that might be entirely unknown as the campaign begins. Bugs or Hordes might be soldiers of a much more sophisticated power. Humanoids (or Humans) can be a pleasant facade preparing for the further agenda of more sinister masters, or those just less capable of predicting or communicating with ourselves.

As the column inches above might suggest, I suspect Bugs, which seem simple and cliched, actually offer many of the most interesting and complex relationships, partly because they do so thoroughly represent what seems to be irreducibly foreign and opposed to ourselves. A Bug species might attack us for a particular reason or under particular influences, which heroes might try to circumvent once we can find out about them. A Humanoid species or members of it might threaten us in a Horde-like fashion at a particular stage of their biology or following disastrous events.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Dec 2 2015, 20:13
uncle_jimbo Dec 30 2015, 23:50 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Strong neighbours have the useful consequence of encouraging border regions and buffer states, extending to three-way interactions in particularly complex settings. These worlds and systems often display a mixed culture or population, or have changed hands from one power to another in their history.
uncle_jimbo Apr 19 2016, 10:47 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Dec 31 2015, 10:50)
Strong neighbours have the useful consequence of encouraging border regions and buffer states, extending to three-way interactions in particularly complex settings. These worlds and systems often display a mixed culture or population, or have changed hands from one power to another in their history.

Dominion, a free adventure for Mindjammer, displays this in fine style with the planet Yand, interesting in itself, on the very border of a fascinating mid-sized nation (the Sentient Alliance) caught between two great powers of the setting, the Commonality and the Venu.
derek_holland Aug 11 2016, 18:00 Group: Heroes, Master of Mutant Creation Quote Post
Speaking of bugs, could the insect spirits from Shadowrun (best described in Bug City) be useful for designing an alien antagonistic species? Their true forms (i.e. astral bodies) border on the supernatural, but it does make them very different from zerg-type bugs.
uncle_jimbo Aug 11 2016, 21:20 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (derek_holland @ Aug 12 2016, 05:00)
Speaking of bugs, could the insect spirits from Shadowrun (best described in Bug City) be useful for designing an alien antagonistic species? Their true forms (i.e. astral bodies) border on the supernatural, but it does make them very different from zerg-type bugs.

They could make a different kind of mysterious energy beings than the usual quasi-angelic fare, which is not at all a bad thing. I must admit I've bought Bug City but not read it.
Guardian Aug 12 2016, 02:10 Group: Heroes, WarHulk AI Quote Post
Since this is just an extension of the totem animal system I use for other things, I see no reason not to include insect-like extra-dimensional entities.
uncle_jimbo Oct 3 2016, 07:05 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Dec 3 2015, 07:02)
Dawning Star's vaasi exemplify a type that is in several senses relevant to Star*Drive: servitors, who commonly interact with the heroes' polity in one of the ways mentioned, but are only a front for a very different ruling power that might be entirely unknown as the campaign begins. Bugs or Hordes might be soldiers of a much more sophisticated power. Humanoids (or Humans) can be a pleasant facade preparing for the further agenda of more sinister masters, or those just less capable of predicting or communicating with ourselves.

I've mentioned elsewhere Traveller's Hivers and Ithklur (who sound in some ways similar to Mass Effect's hanar and grell), though the Hivers have no particular difficulty talking to humans.

It brings up, with the Centaurs/K'kree, the possibility that the neighbouring powers have had their own conflicts that influence their respective relations with the heroes' culture and may threaten to draw us in as they demand we choose a side, or past relatively-friendly interactions that threaten our interests when several neighbouring groups have a tendency to combine against us.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Oct 3 2016, 07:09
uncle_jimbo Oct 5 2016, 09:22 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (uncle_jimbo @ Apr 19 2016, 21:47)
Dominion, a free adventure for Mindjammer, displays this in fine style with the planet Yand, interesting in itself, on the very border of a fascinating mid-sized nation (the Sentient Alliance) caught between two great powers of the setting, the Commonality and the Venu.

Venu might make a more detailed substitute for another power mentioned (sort of) for Star*Drive. Even the early quick-start adventures for each system use them in a strikingly similar way.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Oct 5 2016, 09:31
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