Sunday, November 4, 2012

SWN Factions: The Begining

The key thing about Factions in Stars Without Number is they need to be pissed at one another.  It doesn't really matter if they are a gang in control of a inner city block, or a star spanning empire - they just need the desire to do harm to ANOTHER faction.  The harm could be physical, logistical, or financial.  Someone is threatening their turf, and that somebody must be taken DOWN.

I'm going to go through the steps to create and run a Stars Without Number Faction Game here on the blog, using my Redshirts campaign as a basis.  Now, the factions and the PCs in Redshirts are typically very far from one another.  The main factions are active in the home sector.  The PCs are off in other sectors, exploring and such.  But the two are closely linked, because the PCs are searching for assets that their home faction can use to survive and destroy it's enemies.

First off, it's handy to have a place where these factions can fight.  Chapter Seven: World Creation, has a really nifty sector generation system.  Yeah, it's like Traveller, except where Traveller's sub-sector generation mainly deals with the physical placement and attributes of star systems, Star's Without Number focuses on the adventure potential of said star systems.  Actually, you could probably use the creation systems of both, in concert, and have some pretty nifty results.

But whatever . . .

So, after the dust settles, I stare at the sector map and try to understand the relationship of the worlds I just created, physically and ideologically.  Empires and Federations morph into my head, and a rough history develops.  it's the kind of creation that's hard to quantify, as it just happens in my head.  Call it a Gedankenexperiment.  But if I see the potential for a group to dislike another group, I try to turn up the amp to ELEVEN and make them loath one another.

I'm not going to get into the specifics of each world.  Actually, there are a lot of nifty secrets about the systems that come up in sector creation that the players definitely do not need to know (yet,) and besides, the Faction Game is rather abstract, and we don't  need to know too many specifics other than where worlds exist in relation to one another.

I decided that the Ptolemy Sector had four major factions, two being superpowers, two being minor players. I felt that would be enough to get the ball rolling.  Those factions are the Aquila Union, Skorpios Empire, the Alliance of Independent Systems, and Almagest Rebellion.

Aquila Union - During the Silence, the inhabitants of Aquila fashioned a government using the long gone United States of America as a template.  This was successful, and as they rebuilt and explored the sector, they offered the denizens of other planets egress into their union.  Due to the sheer power and reach of Aquila, it was hard for other systems to say no.  The influence of Aquila continued to expand until the Skorpios Empire entered the stage.

Skorpios Empire - Russian speaking researchers on the fugus infested planet of Skorpios Prime began horrific experiments after the Terran Mandate fell, eventually creating a race of vat-bred neo-humans infused with alien fungal DNA.  Assured by their Scientist-Emperor that theirs was a better way, the Skorpios Legions spread into the Ptolemy Sector to proselytize at the trigger end of a gun barrel.  Needless to say, everyone loves the Skorpions.

Alliance of Independent Systems - Tired of the endless war between Aquila and Skorpios, the systems on the fringe rallied together to break from the warring superpowers and create a haven of peace and economic freedom.  In reality, the Alliance devolved quickly into an area controlled by greedy warlords intent on squeezing wealth from the weak.  The green flag with yellow circle replaced the skull and crossbones within the Ptolemy Sector.
Almagest Rebellion - The quiet planet of Almagest was recovering nicely from the Scream, rebuilding its government, infrastructure, and social institutions.  Then the Skorpios Empire invaded, labeling all inhabitants as slaves and test subject for the greater good of science.  No one on Almagest felt really good about the turn of events, and they have been fighting underground ever since.  The rebellion is tenacious, if not well armed or funded.  They consider the Skorpions insects to squash, and anyone who reminds them that scorpions are arthropods, not insects, gets punched in the nose.

The war between Aquila and Skorpios went on for a hundred years, sometimes hot, sometime cold, but stable, for the most part.  Both sides were equally matched, and brought every world in the sector into the fray.  Neutrality was not an option.  But then the system of Talus lead a unilateral revolt against the two superpowers, forming the Alliance of Independent Systems.  Talus had been allies with Aquila, and it's loss was devastating.

Realizing that they didn't have much time on their hands.  Aquila spearheaded an invasion of a system rumored to have stores of advanced technology, discovered an ancient spike drive capable of a 4 hex jump, and launched the Void Expeditionary Force to secure more technology in a previously unreachable sector of space.

So, that is sector situation for the Redshirt Faction Game.  I'll be getting into the nitty-gritty in later posts.

- Ark

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