Saturday, March 8, 2014

Distant Atmospheres – A GURPS Sci-Fi Campaign

A Watcher.  Watching.
We are preparing for an upcoming sci-fi game.  I've given the players brief hints about the setting and history, but I finally took some time to type it up and draw a little related picture.  They've already done up their characters and it looks like it will be fun.  

The Boy made a genetically enhanced attack dog that can talk.  It's a German Shepard.  It's name is Commander.  

Commander Shepard.  Yup. ;)

Distant Atmospheres is a science fiction game set in the late 24th century.  After receiving a dire warning about impending galactic doom from alien refugees, Humanity began to prepare to flee their homeworld.  As time progressed, however, Humanity chose not to flee, but to explore, settle, and dig in to their interstellar neighborhood.  Nowadays, no one really thinks about the warning of doom – except the occasional religious zealot and odd historian.  Space looks fine - just fine.

The Century of Contact (2001-2100)
The Heralds contact Earth, announcing the Tribulation and gifting the Starseed to Humanity.  Most of the century is used to debate whether to trust the Heralds and initiate Exodus.  The OSA is given the mandate to research the Starseed on Jupiter.
The Century of Exploration (2101-2200)
After Crestrider spacecraft are developed, the OSA initiates plans for the Exodus, exploring nearby star systems and attempting to chart an escape route outside the Milky Way.  As research outposts become colonies and the peaceful, primitive aliens know as the Associates are discovered, the idea of Exodus becomes less popular.
The Century of Colonization (2201-2300)
Midas 2212, an asteroid made almost entirely of gold, is discovered near Sol.  In order to avoid warring over the find, the United Nations claims control over Midas 2212.  Power shifts to the UN, while countries, corporations, and non-profit groups begin to stake claims via the OSA throughout interstellar space.  Exodus is officially written out of the OSA’s charter, in favor of subsidized exploration and colonization.
The Century of Conflict (2301-Present Time)
Colonization continues successfully, and the increased wealth and technological advances bring about unheard of prosperity for humanity.  However, in the middle of the century, mantis-like aliens called the Watchers attack human settlements, conquering them and holding them.  War rages for years until the Empathy Interface is developed, eliminating the need for Rigging and allowing Reachers to be much more maneuverable and deadly in combat.  A Peach Treaty is signed, but the remaining decades prove tense, as the Watchers appear to not be interested in peace.


Associates – Small, fuzzy, arboreal aliens that resemble bush babies, but are intelligent and tool-using.
Crestriders – Reachers who have been altered to travel through space.
Desecrators – Genocidal aliens located towards the center of the Milky Way galaxy, per the Heralds.
Exodus – A plan mentioned by the Heralds to evacuate the Milky Way Galaxy to escape the Tribulation.
Heralds – Aliens that contacted humanity, warning them of the Tribulation and giving them the Starseed.
Makers – The hypothetical ancient alien race that originally developed the Reachers.
Martyrs – An alien race of bepedal, crab-like creatures.  Most of the race was enslaved by the Watchers.
OSA – The UNOOSA, or United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, shorten colloquially to OSA.  A group established by the United Nations in 1958 to help promote peaceful uses of outer space.
Reachers – Giant, squid-shaped intelligent aliens that manipulate space-time.  It is believed that they did not naturally evolve – but instead were created by the mysterious Makers during the distant past.  With manual augmentation, they can be formed into Crestriders.
Rigging – The process of lobotomizing a Reacher and rewiring it’s central nervous system to completely control it.  Such Reacheers are called Rigged Crestriders.
Starseed – A small, dense genetic package used to grow Reachers.
Tribulation – A time of chaos and destruction to be brought on by the Desecrators.
Watchers – Ten foot tall mantis-like aliens with no ability to empathize with aliens and a abnormal interest in horrific genetic experiments.

Earth is the birthplace of humanity and the most populous planet in Human Space, with 14 billion inhabitants.  After years of mismanagement of the biosphere, Earth is finally returning to a healthy state – thanks in part to atmospheric scrubbers, weather control satellites, and bioplastics.
Many languages have disappeared over the centuries.  The core languages spoken on Earth are now Arabic, English, Hindi, Malay, Mandarin, Russian, and Spanish.  Most people know at least one of these, even if it is not their home language.

United Nations
While there are still some 100 countries (down by half from three centuries before,) Earth is governed by the United Nations.  The United Nations has evolved over the years into a tricameral system of power-sharing between the people, the countries, and the corporations, as so:
Parliament – The house of the people.  There are 500 representatives – each one representing 28 million people.  On certain issues, the parliament calls for direct voting by its constituents, which is normally done on the fly instantaneously.  Worldwide votes happen once a week, usually, though many do not vote on matters that do not affect their daily lives.
League of Nations – There are roughly 100 seats – with each seat being held by an officially designated country.  Each seat has a vote weighted by the number of people in that country.  This has caused some countries to unify together, so as to have more legislative power.  The current powerhouse countries are:
·         Anzac – the union between Australia and New Zealand
·         Argentina –  the Spanish-speaking economic stronghold of South America
·         Brazil – the most powerful country in South America
·         China – not communist anymore, China is a managed by a board of corporations
·         Europe – no longer just an economic bloc, Europe is a cohesive cultural entity
·         Greater Congo – forged during the Central Africa wars of the early 2100s
·         India – virtually the same nation as 300 years before.
·         Pacific League – a union of Eastern Pacific states including Japan, Korea, Malaysia Vietnam, and the Philippines
·         Persian Republic – an attempt at a secular government stretching from Turkey and Egypt to Pakistan
·         Russia – Officially the Eurasian Commonwealth, this is just the core of Russia with its reclaimed Soviet Empire in tow
·         United States – the central part of the failed North American Union when Canada and Mexico seceded
Economic Council – The council was formed during the Enterprise Revolt after lobbyists were banned from the United Nations Parliament and League of Nations.  Originally granted status as an advisory board, the Economic Council was altered to become an additional house in the legislative branch of the UN.
The current companies sitting on the eleven member grand council are:
·         Andarta Defense Combine – A European defense technology company.
·         Biotonics – An interstellar conglomerate specializing in genetic technologies.  The company owns most of Mars.
·         Bogati Commodities – A Russian corporation that deals in commodities.
·         Corvodyne – Formed from the United Nations Alien Technology Experimentation Group after privatization.  Specializes in Reacher ranching and augmentation.
·         Doppler Communications – A communication and transportation company for data, passenger, and freight.
·         Exitation – An American energy company, building fission, fusion, and anti-matter reactors.
·         Fukurokuju Industries – A microelectronics and quantum technology company from Japan.
·         Gaṇēśa Mēḍikala – A corporation out of India specializing in health care and cybernetic implants.
·         PanPac Zaibatsu – The largest minifac manufacturing firm on Earth, based out of Japan and Korea.
·         Qǐng Ài – A Chinese robotics and artificial intelligence company.
·         Santa Montaña – The largest Agricultural production company in human space, located in Argentina.
The United Nations also have Executive and Judicial Branches; those are formed by appointees from the Parliament and the League of Nations.  There are several special administrative units in the United Nations – the most powerful being the Office of Space Affairs, a function of the Executive Branch. 

Office of Space Affairs
The United Nations Office of Space Affairs manages all off-world activities in Human Space.  It is headed by the OSA Director General, who oversees these departments:
·         United Nations Colonization Services – This organization issues colonial charters and acts as the go-between for colonial governments and the United Nations.  Colonial Services is a huge bureaucracy, with branches on every colony – be it planets, moon, or station.
·         United Nations Space Forces – This is the military arm of the OSA, comprising both Navy and Army branches.  Given the distance some commanders operate from earth, they are given a lot of room for judgment calls.
·         United Nations Exploration Bureau – The Exploration Bureau makes sure that maps and charts of human space are accurate, investigates unexplored areas, and has specialists trained in first contact scenarios.
·         United Nations Space Transportation Authority – The STA is in charge of ensuring safe and timely travel in human space.  They manage spacecraft safety inspection, oversee Reacher breeding and augmentation, and operate fueling-station way-points.  A lone STA inspector carries a lot of clout on the frontier, as they are backed up by the Navy.

·         United Nations Attaché Corp - The Attaché Corp acts as ambassadors to the various non-human sophonts in interstellar space.   For the most part, the OSA prefers that citizens do not contact aliens on their own, preferring them to go through the UNAC to avoid problems and misunderstandings.

- Ark


  1. Wow, that looks really cool. Good luck and have fun!

    1. Thanks. It's going pretty well so far.

      - Ark