Saturday, July 22, 2017

Twenty Parsecs: The Setting in Broad Strokes



Was thinking a bit more on yesterday's article a bit more. I feel I should amend something. I guess while I love just about all sci-fi, it's space opera that really does it for me, alongside spacefaring hard sci fi. Military sci fi doesn't do it for me much anymore, but I partially blame its overabundance. It is a common theme since in many ways, that would be the future equivalent of the D&D adventurer. Can't really blame it honestly, since it really works. And, any time I say the word 'space marine', I get a litany of Warhammer 40k quotes about burning heretics and never suffering xenos. Gets old hat quickly. Cyberpunk is a mixed bag for me, though I love some of its tropes appearing in some Transhuman fiction. 

So, Twenty Parsecs. How do I imagine it? I'd like to subvert a lot of the expected tropes used in sci fi. First thing, no colonies vs homeworld. At least, not at the beginning and not as the main focus. I've seen enough Expanse and Gundam to last a lifetime, so I don't feel the need to do a spacer revolution for this. Rather, I want this to be about two cultures, separated by the vast gulfs of space and time for centuries, reconnecting and the trials and tribulations that come from it.

The first is the Commonwealth of Free Planets, a confederation of five core human worlds that exist 20+parsecs away from Earth. Each one was part of a generation ship many centuries ago, though most of the common folk have long forgotten that past. The planets have been united under a common lineage but have, over the years, changed enemies and allies alike, like squabbling siblings. Still, they get along enough with themselves and their alien neighbors these days. Many of the survival protocols set from the onset of the colonization program almost a millennium ago have become almost doctrine. Survive, reproduce, build, adapt. The planets have, until recently, looked inwards to ensure their own survival, but the last couple of decades have seen them finally branching out beyond their cluster.

Then there is the Republic of the Earth Cluster. Like the Commonwealth, the Republic is made up of several core worlds in the Local Star Cluster, but much more united under a representative democracy. With their own history has been several eras of war, peace, and a futile attempt at keeping an interstellar empire centered on Earth. Now, Earth keeps a light touch on its outer colonies, though still remains the capital and in charge of their Republic. Unlike the Commonwealth, Earth has yet to find sapient life forms. In many ways, this gives them a more humanocentric view on the galaxy when compared to the Free Planets, who regularly trade with, befriend, and make war (or love) with aliens. 

There will definitely be more culture shock differences as I flesh them out, but I think the key adventures would lean more on social intrigue and on planet adventures. I'm not too keen on wilderness exploration as a major focus, only because my current game is already all about exploration. Plenty of room for city and spaceport adventures for the players. Of course, I'd like to have a main conflict in the setting, as a sort of metaplot I can fall back on when the more episodic adventures run their course. Maybe most or all the players are all Earthlings that are the first to enter Free Planet space. This would allow them to rub shoulders with the leadership of the Free Planets while still able to have adventures with the common folk. I'll have to think about it a lot more.