Friday, February 05, 2010

From the Ground Up - Homebrewing a Near Future Sci Fi Setting : Part 2 : The Basics

I have a system.

I have a vague genre.

Now I've just got to figure out the details.

SciFi (with apologies to Douglas Adams) is big. Really big. It covers everything from the beginnings of cybertech to the vastness of intergalactic empires so it's important to know what type of scifi to go for. With that in mind I had a number of ground rules I wanted to stick to:

1) All the pcs will be human.
This will ensure that all the characters will have an identity based on the pcs' outlook and experiences, rather than just having broad stokes of 'I'm an elf/dwarf/three-tenticled-Xzuka.' While I'm still undecided on whether to have alien beasties in the setting I'd want them to be properly alien, not just a human with a bumpy forehead.

2) The tech will be at least vaguely viable.
I'm a science geek. Most of my friends are science geeks. I go to the British Science Festival every year and pick up random weird and wonderful facts about new technologies. I know that some of the odder scientific theories out there are perfectly viable and it's far more interesting to have logic underpinning your tech. Without that it's just magic with a different name.

3) I will be able to have cool space battles.
Because they're cool. 'Nuff said.

4) The setting will still be recognisable.
I'll be aiming to get new blood in and infodumping a new, unrecognisable setting on people I don't know is usually a recipe for disaster. By keeping a recognisable set of governmental entities relating back to modern nations I can give a frame of reference while relying on the story to fill in the nuances of international relations. The general point that current levels of globalisation has led to a major resurgance of nationalism rather than decreasing it makes me think that it isn't going to be going away for a long time.

5) The pcs will have a noticeable effect on the universe they reside in.
The pcs are the most important people in that particular universe as far as the players are concerned. This is an undisputed fact. The players experience the universe via the pcs and if their actions mean nothing then there's no real reason for them to be playing. While these effects can start small when the players see that their pcs can make a difference to the universe around them it will immerse them more fully into the setting. It also means that they know that their actions have consequences and that if they screw up its not just themselves they have to worry about.

With these ground rules in mind I started to have an idea of the setting that would most fulfil them. A near future setting, just at the very dawn of FTL travel, would be ideal. There would be the opportunity for first contact with other species (or the opportunity for wholescale genocide depending on your view), there are enough current theories on FTL travel that I could pick a bunch and see which one feel the best, the human sphere won't have changed that much - though the rest of the solar system would be colonised and, of course, by being pioneers in the jump out to space the characters will be directly affecting the growth of human civilization in a tangible way.


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