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Subject: Planetary Gothic rss

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Ken H.
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Amherst
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Here are the four players who responded to the sign up thread:

Ken H.
United States
Amherst
Ohio
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The Other Steve
United States
Altadena
California
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Jeff R
United States
California
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(100% real name)
Israel
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I know vestige and Jeff have played before. Schizoid, let me know if we need to discuss the rules.


So let's jump right in. First up: the Big Picture, a one-sentence overview of the history we want to play.

How about if we each make one or two suggestions to start off, and also comment on suggestions made by the others.

One idea I posted in a previous thread was: "The human race slowly fades away after the Apocalypse."

Post-apocalypse is usually a science-fiction genre (though often with a modern-ish setting), but this doesn't have to be. It could easily be a fantasy setting, where the apocalypse is a Ragnarok-style battle of the gods.

Second, I had an idea to do a colonization history, except have it be from the point of view of the natives who are getting colonized. I'm thinking of basically an alternate history, where the colonizing forces are an analog of Renaissance-era European powers, but the New World is distinctly different from real history, such as having some kind of natural or tribal magic or other fantasy elements. So, something like: "Tribal cultures draw upon ancient magics to deal with encroaching colonists."
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
[Reserved spot for updating our timeline.]

Note: possible spoilers for any lurkers who are reading this thread. You may wish to scroll past this post.





Seating Order:
Schizzy
Jeff R
vestige
Rubric


Big Picture: "Ages of exploration, colonization, revolution, and horror, from Mercury to Neptune"


Palette:
YES / Allowed

1. Multiple habitable planets or moons in the
solar system.
2. Relatives of Terran humans, closely-related
enough to be cross-fertile, on other planets/moons.
3. Imagined technologies instead of historical ones
4. Magic and Technology derive from the same
physical substances
5. Interplanetary social science
6. Asteroid Belt
7. Long term exposure to magic substances can affect
your descendants


NO / Banned

1. Benevolent God-like forces
2. Futuristic weaponry, even if re-skinned
3. Universal Translators
4. Instantaneous travel and communications










Start Period: AGE OF DISCOVERY -- (Light)

Spain, the greatest European power, explores the oceans and colonizes the new world. The Ottoman empire dominates the Middle East, northern Africa, and much of the Mediterranean. The Ming Dynasty rules Asia, and is beginning to get involved in world trade. Davinci creates great works of art and science, and Copernicus puts forth the heretical theory that the universe revolves around the sun, not the Earth.

Against this backdrop, the first primitive celestial vessels are created. Early space voyages are dangerous, and draw the ire of the Roman Catholic Church. Spectacular failures outnumber successes. But the lure of the Moon is irresistible, and with Venus and Mars almost in reach, humankind proudly soars into the heavens, searching for riches, knowledge, and destiny.


Event: The Song Remains the Same - Venusian Astronomy Goes Underground
(Dark)

The atmosphere of Venus is so thick that neither Sun nor stars can be distinguished without special equipment. Nevertheless, most of Venusian tribes have their calendars and star maps. The motion of celestial objects are calculated with high precision by priest castes devoted only to this task. Reliable time measurement is kept by religious chanting, poetry declamation and singing.
However at the time of this Event, on the entire planet, a series of unsolved murders wipe the caste of time-keepers, urging the survivors to establish secret societies, move to hidden locations and keep the astronomical science separate from common knowledge. This results in a long period during which most of the Venus population is unaware of any astronomical information besides the distance to Mercury, which all Venusians are able to measure by biological means.


Event: The Planet Sings
(Light)

When the Venusian astronomers and time chanters were driven into hiding, a small group of them went literally underground -- deep into the criss-crossing natural tunnels beneath the fog-shrouded valleys of the northern continent, Ishtar Terra.

Dresda Primalato, who served as the group's Coloratura (responsible for the high siren-like trills of the time-keeping hymns), slipped on a small rivulet of quicksilver and fell headlong off a subterranean cliff into the black unknown. Her discipline was strong, and so her piercing chant never wavered even as she plummeted to her death. Though her body was not recovered, her memory lives on -- from nearly any place in the unending tunnels, the ululating echoes of her song are still heard.


Event: Elemental conspiracy - Holy Roman Empire silently bans Alchemy
(Dark)
A secret meeting between emissaries of Vatican and the Emperor is held in Prague. In just a few months after this, most of the prominent alchemists of the Catholic world disappear: some are dead from mundane diseases, some are arrested for heresy, some killed by experiments gone bad.
Supplies of mercury are bought off by unnamed but wealthy entities, who also acquire control over Monte Amiata region in Tuscany - Europe's greatest mercury supplier.


Event: Miners have a masterplan - Columbus starts his Quest for Asia
(Dark)
A young and promising Genoan trader Cristoforo Colombo reaches Britain, Ireland and, finally, Iceland. His activities in this remote location remain largely unknown to historians. However, it is known for fact, that during this voyage Columbus joins The Order of Ancient, Accepted and Esoteric Freeminers. The newly accepted initiate receives a task, which profound meaning was mostly obscure for him. However, eager to prove himself to the Order, Columbus starts his intrigue, which took more than 10 years to bring fruits in the form of his First Voyage.

Event: A prize to remember
(Light)
A Spanish ship carrying treasures captured in the conquest of Aztecs is intercepted by pirates, who turn to be smart enough to pass it, after a short but eventful inspection, to the representatives of the British Crown. The captain of the pirate ship gets a promotion, and his first order is to start forming a crew of a new ship, which mission is censored by Royal Secret Service Bureau.

Event: La Noche Triste -- Cortes is routed at Tenochtitlan
(Dark)
Under orders to secure Mexico for Spanish colonization, Hernando Cortes assembled a vast host on the outskirts of Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire. Per custom, Emporer Montezuma invites the leaders into the city for a meeting, with assurances of safety. Cortes has other plans, however, and strikes in the middle of the night. In what becomes known as La Noche Triste (the Night of Sorrow), the conquistador's treachery and superior weapons result in the deaths of countless Aztecs.

However, the tides turn when blue-painted Aztec priests begin to appear, with oddly reflective silver eyes. They fight with crazed energy, blinding speed, and clearly impossible strength. And, though it's hard to be sure amidst the dark and chaos, they seem immune to iron and arrows as well. When the Spanish army breaks, Cortes has no choice but to pull back and attempt to regain some control over his frightened troops. As he flees the city, he hears reports of a great flying serpent attacking from the air, but dismisses this as the delusions of battle-weary soldiers.


Event: A nose for the stars -- Vanity leads to discovery of the Tychonic Lift principle.
(Light)
Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer and renegade neo-alchemist, created a prosthetic nose made of copper (since he had lost his original nose in a duel). He was working on a way to adhere it to his face, when he discovered that contraband mercury (aka quicksilver) reacts with the abundant substance sulfur (aka brimstone) in such a way to cause copper to fly into the air. After his first copper nose smashed through the roof and vanished into the sky, he refined the process so that the copper would float at a consistent height, thus allowing his nose to remain in place without its weight causing the prosthesis to fall. Unfortunately, the copper needs to be "recharged" periodically, which is difficult because both quicksilver and brimstone are consumed in the charging process.


Event: Tycho invents the Flying Moose
(Light)
After perfecting the levitation of his prosthetic nose, Tycho pursues new applications for the self-named Tychonic Lift Principle. He creates a device that consists of a wooden box with levers, attached to a copper harness. A man wears the harness, and then uses the levers to mix quicksilver and brimstone in desired proportions, levitating the copper and allowing the man to fly (at least up and down). It is essentially a primitive version of the massive brimstone engines of the future.

He finds the box too heavy when not in use, and the copper harness too uncomfortable. Also, it is impossible for a single man to carry sufficient reserves of brimstone for a long flight. Then, it occurs to him to modify the copper harness to fit his pet moose, Manderup. The moose can easily carry the box, a large supply of brimstone, and a passenger! The moose, often drunk on fine danish beer, seems to enjoy the resulting voyages as much as Tycho does.

Eventually, Tycho's assistant, Johannes Kepler, proposes adding a wind sail to the moose, to allow lateral movement. He does so, though finds it very difficult to steer. Nevertheless, it becomes a popular chilren's activity, especially on windy evenings in Denmark, to try to catch a glimpse of the world's first Flying Moose sailing drunkenly over the Copenhagen skyline.


Event: The Ming Dynasty advances flight technology
(Light)
As European powers reached out to expand trade, the secretive Ming China became aware of the phenomenon known as Tychonic Lift. All efforts by Spain and England had thus far met with failure, as the ships either crash-landed or never returned. The main problems to be solved were steering the vessels in the windless void of space (since Tychonic lift allows acceleration only in the exact opposite direction of gravity), and also figuring out how to navigate to a destination that would not cooperate by staying in the same spot.

Europe was making progress on the navigation issue. But, the collective thought process of Europe was stuck on windsails and rudders, which were of no help in the steering problem. With centuries of experience creating fireworks, however, the Chinese had more knowledge of the chemistry of brimstone than any culture on earth, and were quite familiar with its potential use as a propellant. Thus, the ruling class of the Ming empire turned this problem over to their best analytical minds -- a secret coven of silver-eyed immortals, led by the ancient Kongzi himself.

Ultimately, the problem was solved by Shen Kuo, mathemetician, astronomer, engineer, and poet. Following some of Tycho's original plans, Shen built a number of small lever-operated brimstone engines. He then designed a small six-man copper-plated craft. The skeleton of the ship was made of bamboo tubes that allowed quicksilver to reach the entire vessel. As one after another were lost into the sky with their hapless crew, he eventually discovered that burning the brimstone caused copper to rapidly de-charge. This important discovery allowed an operator to control his speed, and the explosive combustion of brimstone simultaneously offered a way to impart lateral thrust, even in space.

Many of Shen's ships were still lost, because the fragile vessels couldn't withstand the repeated explosive concussions necessary to steer them. Nevertheless, given the great number of attempts, the first successful interplanetary voyages were made by these "celestial vessels", although the early voyages were kept highly secret due to the xenophobia of Ming leadership.


Event: A Giant Step for Mankind
(Light)
Tycho's discoveries spread like wildfire, despite the Church's efforts. But they took root most firmly in London, where a heady mix of natural philosophy, alchemy, and practical engineering - not to mention a deep-rooted distrust of foreign powers, even spiritual ones - flowered within the Royal Society, whose members worked feverishly to build an airship so light that quicksilver could lift it beyond the grasp of Terra. In 1667, a young Isaac Newton took the final step - working out the navigational principles to strike for Terra's nearest neighbor. Just one year later, a young Neil Armstrong set foot on Luna - barren but hardly inhospitable.


*************************************************

Period: First Contact -- (Light)
Still full of bravado, the Terran explorers struck out farther and farther afield. Venus was an obvious target - and there the Terrans found their first cousins in the lush jungles of the garden planet, a race of tough and leather-skinned warriors who had adapted to the strange chemistry of their own world. The planet-bound Venusians were awestruck at the Terrans' technology, and the Terrans were eager to harvest the quicksilver the Venusians took for granted. For many years the two traded and taught for each other in peace (though a wary one at times) while the Terrans came to understand the power their technology granted them - but only if they controlled the quicksilver.

Event: H.M.S. King James, Mk III
(Dark)
During the landing on Venus, King James is caught in a thunderstorm. With the outer hull engulfed in flames, the ship literally falls from the sky into Venusian swamp. The amount of damage is enormous. Fortunately, the natives are friendly and ready to help. The ship is rebuilt by local artisans with use of materials and designs largely unknown to the crew. The only part of the ship that remains more or less untouched is the Tychonic engine. That's how the third incarnation of King James was born.

Event: The Dragon Regiment
(Light)
A unit of Martian soldiers, more than a thousand strong, along with their artistocratic leaders, falls severely out of favor with their political masters. They choose exile over an honorable death and use most of their assets to purchase passage to Earth on a British ship, where they become mercenaries.

Their first and last client is the Ming Emperor, who uses them to ruthlessly put down Li Zicheng's rebellion and reconquer lands lost to the Manchus. After these wars are done, the Regiment's leaders are caught plotting a coup against their hosts and employers, and are executed, but a tradition of service by Martian exiles and partially Martian half-breeds in the Ming military begins.


Event: Siren's Song
(Light)
A little known ethnographer Vasiliy Peskov publishes an 800-page tome titled On correlation between positions of planets and Venusians' mating habits, in which he names Mercury's astronomical transit between Sun and Venus as the most important factor affecting the natives.
Although strictly scientific, the book suddenly turns to be a best seller among seekers of frivolous facts about aliens.


Event: The Empty World
(Dark)
The H.M.S. King James makes the first successful landing on the innermost planet, finding it barely habitable but almost completely devoid of animal life. They do, however, discover, mainly along the planet's meridian, a number of well-preserved, ancient ruins, all bearing uncanny resemblances to the cities of the Aztec Empire. Less than half of the crew survive their harrowing experiences in one of those ruins, but the survivors return to their home port with a great wealth of artifacts from a civilization apparently older than Egypt or China.

*************************************************

Period: The Rush for Resources -- (Dark)
As the various Terran governments push each other farther and faster into the solar system, they quickly run up against one inescapable fact: interplanetary travel is resource-hungry, and Earth is sadly barren of many of those resources: quicksilver, of course, but others as well. The European, American, and Chinese governments race each other outwards, colonizing the farthest and least hospitable reaches of the solar system - and finally making contact, rarely friendly, with humanity's cousins on the moons of the gas giants.

Event: The First Io War
(Dark)
The first flashpoint in the Colonial Wars was the Jovian moon Io: a cauldron of volcanoes and earthquakes and the only primary source of the dense metal iosium, an invaluable ingredient in the increasingly intricate navigation systems enabling these long journeys. What had formerly been separate tracks of expansion by the Terran powers converged on Io, and a bloody battle ensued between the three navies. Peace was finally brokered by the Ganymedians - who arranged a neutral zone, controlled by their representatives, that distributed the iosium on a "fair and balanced" basis.

Event: The Neptunian Matriarchy comes out of hiding
(Light)
Despite there being billions of miles between Neptune and the center of the so-called "colonial wars", the leaders on Neptune knew violence would eventually reach their shores if they did not act. Sooner or later, someone from the inner planets, wondering why their ships never returned from Neptune, would send a force too large to be Siphoned.

So, Queen [unreproducible gurgling sound], the second of her name, called an assembly of the nobility to discuss solutions. One of the most respected sea-owners, Lady [unreproducible brief gurgle], who was known for her stunning green complexion and exceedingly rare silver internal glow, was in attendance. She proposed that it was finally time to attempt communication with the various creatures of the solar system, despite their crass flesh-and-bone structure and their oddly precise sonic languages.

As a result of this meeting, now known as the Great [unreproducible flashing colors with with no sound involved], the Neptunians sent one of their bizarre water-filled Bubbleships hurtling toward the inner planets. The captain of this ship, [unreproducible deeper bubbling sound with a hint of splashing], arbitrarily chose the red planet, as it matched her own red internal glow. Her instructions were simple, keep Neptune out of the war in any way possible. The Assembly recommended two tactics in particular: destroying the mines that produce fuel, and making friendships (either real or Siphon-symbiotic) with local leaders
.



*************************************************

Period: Martian Wars -- (Dark)
A generation or so characterized by long wars punctuated by brief and unsteady truces as New Mars attempts to export its revolutionary ideals and achieve hegemony across the Solar System. Their principal opponents are the Euro-Chinese dominated Terran League, and while New Martian imperial ambitions are ultimately thwarted, the cost to their opponents and those caught in the crossfire are immense.

Event: From a spark... -- Quicksilver miners revolt, igniting the Great Martian Revolution
(Dark)
A group of native Martian workers, fed up with low wages and abysmal working conditions, revolt at the Low Syrtis quicksilver mine. Joined by lower-class human colonists, the proletarians quickly proceed with taking control of most of inhabited Mars territory.

Scene: The Low Syrtis quicksilver mine, Mars. A famous journalist arrives to investigate the conflict between the mine's management and the miner's union. Question: "What role played quicksilver in the revolt at the Low Syrtis mine?"

Answer:

Event: Together but separate
(Light)
The first Pan-Martian Assembly ends with a triumph. Representatives of great tribal councils, worker unions, churches, communes, free artisans guilds and feminist associations, both native and colonist, declare "One Planet for both People". The state of euphoria continues for several days, and only few pay attention to a little addendum to the "Declaration of Unity", which, centuries after, will be condemned as one of the most hideous documents in the planetary history. This little paragraph was titled "For a pure future", and it declares Terran-Martian interbreeding illegal.

Event: The Great Fleet
(Dark)
The long tradition of Martian service in the Ming military makes the Ming Empress particularly angry with the Martian uprising. She goads the most powerful eunuch in his court, Shun Chun, to lead a fleet of massive airships to Phobos, in order to crush the Martians' staging base for their own airship fleet. But Shun is betrayed by Martian half-breeds within his fleet, and his "surprise" ambush turns into a rout of the Chinese fleet, ending their long reign as "protectors" of the system's shipping lanes.

Event: Mercury on Fire
(Dark)
The sunward side of Mercury, baked by the intense radiation of the sun, was long thought both uninhabitable and uninteresting. But as the Martian masses geared up for a hopeless war against the Terrans and their allies, their elders spoke to their ancestors through intoxicating, quicksilver-fueled divinations. The spirits spoke, and told them that the blazing Mercurian surface spewed gases of brimstone and fire that could drive the Martians toward a ferocity whose intensity could perhaps match the Terran's technology. A daring raid to Mercury collected a tremendous stock of brimstone - and the war was launched.

*************************************************

Period: New Worlds, Ordered -- (Light)
With the domination of the Terran and Martian superpowers at an end, a new interplanetary and international system arises, based on free trade and diplomacy rather than mercantilism and colonialism. Some ancient institutions, like Ming China and the Roman Catholic Church, adapt to the changing times by radically changing themselves, while others fall by the wayside, replaced by new ones like the Unified Earth Government and the Sorority of Couriers. And meanwhile, Earth's population enters a sharp decline caused by emigration, lowered birth rates, and ultimately a deadly plague.

Event: The Eternal Ming Winter
(Dark)
After being repeatedly overruled and outvoted in the ongoing negotiations to turn the wartime Earth Alliance into a permanent Unified Earth Government, the court of Boy-Emperor Zhu Youzhao not only withdraws from those negotiations but moves the seat of the Ming government to the 'Winter Palace' on Vesta, and policies are set into place that encourage the vast majority of the Chinese of Earth, rich and poor alike, to emigrate to the belt.

Event: The "Ice Harvest"
(Light)
As trade within the system picks up, a hunger for more and more exotic materials and crafts picks up as well. From that grows a curiosity, and then obsession, with the outermost fringes of the solar system - long ignored by the great powers in favor of the more practical exploitation of the civilized portion. In response, and taking advantage of a Grand Conjunction of many of the largest bodies in the Kuiper Belt, the Uranian captain Oosogoloo mounts a decades-long expedition to explore - and exploit - these miniature ice worlds. His fleet harvests wondrous ices, and he returns claiming to have discovered not only the fabled solid phase of quicksilver but also relics of strange and ancient civilizations.



*************************************************

Period: Forsaken Earth -- (Light)
As a result of humanity's expansion across the Solar System, Earth turns into a second-rate planet. Although it is still honored as "The Old Motherland", it's value now is mostly historical and sentimental. With local population drastically decreased, it becomes a post-apocalyptic mix of ruins and wilderness.
At the same time, colonies, from Mercury to Neptune, enjoy an age of peace and prosperity.


Event: The Venusian Gypsies Arrive
(Dark)
As the Terrans slowly de-populate their own planet, others arrive to fill in the gaps - some seeking fortune, but many as refugees. One of these groups was a dispossessed tribe of Venusians. This tribe - now known as the Gypsies - had traveled the system in great but nearly derelict airships for many years, after fleeing their own planet when their tribal astronomers broke the vow of silence that had hidden their counterparts in other tribes. The other tribes quickly attacked to preserve their own secrets, and only a small fraction of the Gypsies escaped.

Their arrival in the shell of New York City (for they had become used to close quarters during their long journey) was largely unheralded, and even welcomed by their few Terran neighbors. They attempted to resurrect the ancient rituals their astronomers had preserved. But something went very wrong with that first ritual - several Terran observers suffered terrible hallucinations, and they returned to their homes sick and feverish. Soon they were dead - and nearly 90% of the Terrans still resident in New York City were dead within two months.


Event: The Bejeweled Queen Rises to Power
(Light)

Her mother was a spiny Neptunian woman with a smooth translucent blue complexion and a red internal glow, a rare combination that signifies both intelligence and passion. Her father was a Martian (obviously, as only the rugged stone-like hide of an equitorial martian could withstand the poisonous quills of a Neptunian female.) As a result of this unlikely union, her skin has the appearance of hard faceted sapphires that shimmer, even in darkness. Also, instead of the needle sharp spines of her mother, she has flat, strong, blade-like outgrowths, on her shoulders, arms and head.

Her appearance is reportedly stunning, even to cross-breeds who are normally familiar with nature's more fantastic sights. But it is her natural charisma and wisdom that allow her to stop the skirmishes among the scattered colonies of the Belt, and instead give these isolated beings purpose and a unified identity. It's no surprise, since leadership is in her genes. Her Martian name is Ganna Thennek, and she claims to be descended from the last of the Martian Speakers. Her Neptunian name is [unreproducible bubbling sound], and she says her mother was a member of the elite ruling class in the matriarchal society of Neptune. In keeping with Belter custom, she chose her own name to be Blue Ganna of Metis.

Only her close friends call her that, however. To most, she is "the Bejeweled Queen", due to the appearance of her skin, and the nobility of her demeanor. Though not an actual queen, she is accepted by the unified groups as their leader, thanks to her diplomatic skill and her firm hand (or blade) when called for. The colonies were still primarily pure-strain species, but owing to her overtures of acceptance and respect for all, the newly unified colonies gradually begin inter-marrying and forming a culture that will be truly unique, such as the solar system has never seen before.

While her monicker will eventually change to "the Butcher Queen", she is at this stage one of the most popular and effective leaders in the solar system.


Event: The Melting Pot Boils Over
(Light)
Although natural philosophers had long realized the potential for interbreeding amongst (most of) the races of the Solar System -- and speculated endlessly about its origin -- documented incidents were few and far between, thanks to pervasive mistrust and largely unspoken taboos amongst even allied species. But, hidden from view, the scattered colonies of the asteroid belt, a hodgepodge of outcasts from every race, had quietly ignored the taboo. As the centralized government of Earth collapsed, the Belters became bolder, and soon a veritable fleet of freighters and couriers were trawling the planets and their moons - and the solar system's residents were shocked to see a magician caste of cross-breeds swarm space with them. Within a generation, the old taboos - and much of the mistrust - had largely broken down.

Event: Pirates of Io: Interplanetary trade crippled for several years by Quicksilver thieves.
(Dark)
As the commodity grows ever more scarce, well organized brigands prey on the orbital lanes, attacking even the most well-protected fleets and capturing prizes of Mercury for the sinister purposes of that Jovian moon's mysterious scientist-lord, Herr Doktor Klaus. The attacks end with as little notice as they began.

Scene: Outside a research station on Io, Jupiter's innermost moon. Question: "How did the Mercurians persuade the pirates of Io to begin seizing quicksilver shipments?"

Answer:

Event: The Formation of the Klaus Collective
(Light)

After completing a secret deal with the Mercurian serpents, Herr Doktor Klaus acquired sufficient knowledge and resources to abandon the brimstone plains of Io and move his research back to Earth. Since there is no longer any form of government or security on the planet, he was able to establish his base at a place of his choosing, without interference. He picked the Valley of Kings, in what was formerly Egypt, believing that the ancient structures nearby may hold some keys to his research. Uninterested in all things mystical, he assembled the sharpest scientific minds from across the solar system and set out to discover the secrets of life... and death.

Scene: In the shadow of the great pyramid of Giza. Question: "How did Herr Doktor Klaus lose control of the Collective?"

Answer:

Event: First and Last
(Light)
In an obscure scientific facility tucked away in the sparsely populated Nile Valley, a long-term project finally comes to fruition. By carefully cross-breeding the various sentient species of the system, the intent of the project was to recreate the bloodlines of the long-theorized First People. Despite the obvious and apparently insurmountable obstacles to this goal (the apparent extinction of the Mercurian line, the insularity of the Titanides, the fact that all attempts at crossing Europans with another species yield infertile offspring, and the utter alienness of the Ganymedians) they achieve some kind of success, and a new, mystically potent race, calling themselves the Alphans, enters the civilized world, albeit in extremely small numbers.

Event: The Purity Wars
(Dark)
The reactionary new government of a defeated and demoralized Mars begins a new policy of vigorous enforcement of the Declaration of Unity, including the stripping of all rights of so-called illegal persons. This provokes a strong response from Queen Blue Ganna of Metis, but many of the member states of her coalition are still exhausted from the previous interplanetary wars, and support for action against Mars is so lacking that many worlds rally around her estranged eldest daughter, who declares her mother infirm and no longer fit to rule. Mars is all but forgotten in the bloody civil war that follows.

Scene: Earth. Saharan offices of the Klaus Collective, where Blue Ganna of Metis has come for a diplomatic meeting with Hulda Zeiss. Question: "Why did the human race continue to shun Earth, even after the plague was cured?"

Answer:

Event: A new Martian government
(Dark)
The extremist government on Mars, known as the Terran Morality Congress, had threatened to join the Belt civil war on the side of the rebels, led by Lorelei of Triton. However, when the Earth-bound Plague spreads to Mars, the members of the TMC die off in droves -- almost as though the Plague was specifically targetted at them alone.

As word spreads that the Plague cannot be cured, humans continue to flee to the outer planets. The new power vacuum on Mars allows Blue Ganna of Metis to construct a puppet government for the red planet, friendly to her cause. The new president of Mars is an Alphan, who immediately begins legal proceedings to repeal the Declaration of Unity, declaring it an abomination.


Event: Funeral of a Queen
(Dark)
Hundreds of ships dot the sky above the extraordinarily close horizon of the asteroid Metis. The King James is the largest of them by far, much larger than the Neptunian emissary's Bubbleship. Most of them are just the tiny copper-banded skiffs that the Belters favor.

Ganna lies in repose on a pedestal prepared by her daughter, Alea of Neith and Metis (the loyal one), following Belter custom. Ganna's internal glow has obviously gone out, but her blue crystalline skin still sparkles as it reflects the distant sun, frequently drawing comments from those in attendance.

Far Shale of Metis, whom Ganna would affectionately refer to as Shale the Ironic, stands vigil as her honor guard. And he will so stand (in shifts with Alea) for as long as visitors keep coming. His somber face betrays only a slight hint of his deep, crushing sadness. Thus far, the vigil has lasted hundreds of sunsets, and looks to continue for hundreds more (though admittely sunsets are only 5 hours apart on Metis).

When the vigil finally ends, Blue Ganna of Metis will be entombed deep in the metallic structure of the asteroid, where her light will be lost to the universe forever.

Her life will be favorably remembered for generations among the Belters. Around the rest of the solar system, however, her legacy becomes little more than a bed-time story that parents tell their mis-behaving children -- of the Butcher Queen, who killed everyone on Mars just because she was mad at her disobedient daughter.



Event: Shen Kuo's Magnificent Worms are re-discovered
(Light)
A group of explorers scavanging the remains of what whas historical China, discovers a vast sub-terranian system of interconnected caverns and tunnels, which seems to expand endlessly deeper and deeper into the Earth's crust. Several of the caverns look like they were inhabited in the past. The group manages to excavate an intact ancient library, a horde of technical documentation and remains of several subterrannial vehicles. Strangely enough, these allegedly non-flying drilling ships seem to be propelled by the well-known quicksilver/brimstone technology.

Event: The Fountain of Flight
(Dark)
The forgotten and empty Earth has become a haven for mercenary explorers, looking to extract the hidden treasures of lost civilizations. One such group, a motley crew of Venusians, ex-asteroid miners, and Jovian giants, tunnels deep below the ruins of New Tenochtitlan, breaks through to caverns beneath the original Aztec settlements and discovers a vast river network of quicksilver - and the ancient constructs still guarding the long-fabled cache. Only two of the explorers, both miners, escape with their lives, bringing news of the mythical Fountain of Flight back to civilization - along with tales of the sinister forces still guarding it.

Event: The Great Drill Begins
(Dark)

Jovian crust-ship Flamen Dialis - a gargantuan vessel specially designed for penetrating the solid structures of Earth - starts its centuries-long journey to the Earth's Core. Besides carrying the obvious geological and chemical equipment, it also has a vast genetic laboratory, which is heavily guarded and kept out of reach for the majority of the crew, besides a close-knit group of Alphans, who act as something between administration and an elite caste for the ship.


*************************************************

Period: The Serpents' Reign
(Dark)

In the major nations of every civilized planet and moon, Mercurians either reveal themselves as the powers behind the nominal ruling classes or execute violent coups de etat, putting the vast majority of the system under the most brutal regimes in history. Among other atrocities committed by the regime (or rather, regimes, as the various Mercurians now in power almost immediately set to infighting) is the systematic slaughter of the most mystically attuned Venusians and Martians in order to harvest biological quicksilver. The only organized resistance to their rule begins among the multi-species hardscrabble communities of the Asteroid Belt, ultimately successful in overthrowing the serpents but only at a nearly unbearable cost.

Event: A Message from Mercury
(Dark)

While tales both credible and fanciful of the 'snakes' had been around since nearly the Age of Discovery itself, the vast majority of people believed them long-extinct. Until one day, when the subbasements of a facility on Mercury's Meridian activates and majestic mirrors align to focus the sun's light in an intense beam powerful enough to make a disc of the thick Venusian cloud cover visibly glow. The beam moved and blinked in a pattern, meaningless to the Terran colonists and the majority of Venusian but unmistakable to the Venusian priests, astronomers, and time-keepers.

"The Debt is Due."

As one, thousands of daggers were unsheathed as bloody revolution came to the second planet.


Event: The HMS King James Rises Again!
(Light)
The battered but legendary HMS King James had passed hands several times, through the conventional means of inheritance and as spoils of victory in both battle and card games, and after several less-than-ambitious owners nobody seemed to know whether she was mothballed or had simply disintegrated.

A century into the serpents’ reign, the belter pirate Hollyhock – who claimed serpent blood herself, though most suspected a more conventional mixture of Venusian and Neptusian - finally found her, almost unrecognizable, running passenger service through the moons of Jupiter. She didn’t even wait until the passengers were offloaded before boarding, pointing the King James full quicksilver ahead (which, though the bellows were worn and old, still proved impressively fast) toward home – and her lover, General Girault Latrec, whose grandfather had claimed the King James hid secrets that would end this war, one way or the other.


Scene: The captain's stateroom on the Dulcinea. Hollyhock has returned with the King James, and Latrec has just completed his inspection.
Question: "How could the Eye of the Dragon defeat the Mercurian serpents?"

Answer:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Dragon's Eye can awaken the dragons, which have great but mysterious power, and could possibly defeat the serpents. (Light)


Event: The Eye of the Dragon
(Light)
General Girault Latrec, hero of the resistance and captain of the Dulcinea, finds himself and his crew in a desperate race across the entire solar system, with the agents of the Mercurians always only one step behind him, to recover the Eye of the Dragon. One of the artifacts recovered from the very first expedition to Mercury, it is thought to be the key to toppling the reign of the so-called Serpent kings...or to making it last for all time.

Event: The Day the Core Stood Still - An armed accident in the Earth's mantle brings the catastrophe.
(Dark)

Flamen Dialis (see The Great Drill Begins) is getting near its final destination, but suddenly the crew discovers that they are followed by an unidentified ship moving right in their wake. The military council held exclusively by Alphans, approves usage of torpedoes with mineral-melting warheads.
Simultaneously, on the board of the another ship, which is now known to be Dresda manned by Venusian Gipsies' descendants, an ancient ritual begins: a choir of priests performs a powerful chant, amplified by modern chemo-acoustic machinery.
The two weapons, being operated in such close distance, bring unexpected result of non-revertable change in the Earth's geological strucures.


Scene: Mission's End: The combined effect of Venusian Chanting and mineral-melting torpedo warheads has started a catastrophic reaction in the Earth's mantle and core, in the process crippling both ships.
Question: "What was the true mission of Flamen Dialis?"

Answer:

Event: The Decisive Battle
(Light)
As Earth's instability increases, the Mercurian-allied forces assemble a massive fleet behind Luna and the resistance forces, lead by the captain of the Dulcinea, gather to meet it in a desperate final battle. Using surprise and clever tactics, the resistance holds the much larger Mercurian fleet to a standstill, which lasts until the Earth itself cracks open and the two new-born Great World Dragons emerge and join the Mercurian fleet, proving each to be the equivalent of dozens of ships of the line. As all seems lost, The rebuilt and refitted H.M.S King James arrives with the Eye of the Dragon, which allows it to break the Mercurian's mesmeric control of the beasts, which turn against their former masters, allowing the resistance to utterly destroy the Serpent's fleet and break their power on the worlds they had dominated.


*************************************************

End Period: AGE OF SURVIVORS -- (Dark)

As problems with space flight deepen, and especially when the Earth is destroyed, few are optimistic enough to even think about the future. However, this epoch is actually a beginning of a new equilibrium between tradition and innovation.

Event: Standoff at Luna
(Dark)
In the immediate aftermath of the destruction of Earth, the Ark fleet, gathered in the few safe orbits of the newly-elevated-to-the-status-of-Planet Luna, prepares to make the dangerous journey through the debris field to a more habitable home. But they find themselves penned in by the forces held by President Latrec III, who do not respond to their hails and, after nearly an hour of the tense standoff, open fire on the unarmed civilian fleet.

Scene: Betrayal at Luna. Setting: The stateroom of the Dulcinea, where Captain Girault Latrec, his older brother and President of the anti-Serpent Alliance Bertrand Latrec III, and the other leading figures of the alliance have gathered to discuss their response to the Ark Fleet.

Question: "Why did the Alliance fleet open fire on the Ark Fleet even though effective treatments for the Terran Plague had been developed decades previously?"

Answer:

Event: The Dragons Depart
(Dark)
When the Eye of the Dragon appeared, the massive twins born of the shattered earth reared and twisted in confusion, torn between the commands of the Serpents and the beckoning gaze of the Eye. But before long the Eye proved too much for them, and they hastened to it, basking in its light as if it were a drug. And, very quickly, those who observed closely discovered that it was a drug, at least in one sense: over time, the dragons became more and more resistant to the Eye's commands, requiring a stronger and stronger force of will within those who used it. Shortly after the destruction of the Ark fleet, President Latrec ordered the dragons to accompany his fleet home as an honor guard on a slow march through the solar system. Instead, the dragons roared in anger and tore through his fleet - leaving only a handful of ships unscathed, and killing Latrec's entire command crew. The few survivors limped home as the dragons soared upward, away from the ecliptic, to an unknown destination.

Event: The King's Last Voyage
(Light)
An old debt gets finally paid when the Eye of the Dragon is returned to its rightful place in the deep caves of Venus. The artifact is transported by H.M.S King James, and the venerable ship also finds its rest there. The parts of the ship, whose origin can be traced to the landing accident from many centuries ago, are dismantled and distributed between underground churches as relics. The empty hull becomes a new shrine where time is sang, recited and chanted again.

Event: The Moose Who Is Not a Moose Rests At Last
(Light)
Tycho's beloved moose - or at least its mortal remains - had been bouncing around the solar system for centuries, ever since Tycho himself had launched it beyond the atmosphere in a glorious riot of quicksilver after the animal passed away in a particularly drunken stupor. But the moose's meager fuel supply guaranteed that it could not escape the system entirely, and shortly after the first interplanetary voyages the Venusians hosted another visitor, as the moose crashed onto their world. Taking it as a peace offering, the Venusians combined it with the bones of the most important of their domesticated animals, creating a two-headed skeleton that they launched back into space. The "moose" then bounced around the solar system, each time gaining another head, leg, tail, or even body, until it became a baroque composition of cross-breeding, precariously traveling the stars. Somehow, even during the most xenophobic times, it managed to find a sympathetic audience willing to celebrate commingling and continue its journey, and somehow it even accreted the body of a serpent riding the moose.

The moose had vanished during much of the Serpent's Reign, thought lost for good by many, but it reappeared at last on Mercury shortly after the Ark Fleet's destruction. This time, however, the tribesmen who found it swore that the bone pattern no longer resembled a bizarre cross-breed, but that they had re-formed into a form now recognizable as a dragon. Declaring its crash site a sacred site, the new Mercurians left the moose and its many friends at rest, staring at the civilized worlds beyond.


Event: The Song of Terra
(Light)
After the wars of vengeance and anger finally sputter out, a new epic poem begins to circulate around the solar system. Of unknown provenance - though it first appeared in pidgin English and Martian - it tells of the pride of humanity, both its follies and its lasting achievements. The poem's balanced view provides closure both to the scattered Terran survivors and their enemies, and its popularity gives both sides' political leaders the cover they need to declare an end to hostilities - in turn finally allowing the widely feared technological achievements of the Terrans to begin to filter through the remainder of the solar system.

Scene: Lessons. Setting: A classroom at Herr Doktor Klaus's old command post on the brimstone plains of Io, where a teacher is wrapping up a lesson on the Song of Terra.

Question: "What became of the Alphans?"

Answer:

**************************************************
**************************************************
**************************************************

Focus List:
1. Mercury, chosen by Schizzy.
2. Mercury (the planet), chosen by Jeff.
3. Cross-breeds (children of inter-species unions), chosen by Steve
4. The Fall of Earth, chosen by Ken

Round 2

5. Ancient Venusian Tribal Rituals, chosen by Schizzy
6. The Eternal Ming Dynasty, chosen by Jeff
7. Mining, chosen by Steve
8. Endings, chosen by Ken


Legacies:
1. Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer and alchemist, chosen by Ken
2. H.M.S. King James - inter-planetary vessel (or several ones, through the entire history, bearing the same name), carrying a crew of most fearless adventurers and explorers., chosen by Schizzy
3. The Declaration of Unity -- a document created during early stages of the Martian Wars, ostensibly to promote peace, which was later used as the legal basis for extreme cross-species prejudice,, chosen by Jeff
4. Luna -- the moon of the former earth, which became a planet unto itself after earth's destruction, chosen by Steve

Round 2
5. No change -- Tycho Brahe is still Ken's legacy item.
6. No change -- the HMS King James is still Schizzy's legacy item.
7. No change -- the Declaration of Unity is still Jeff's legacy item.
8. No change -- Luna is still Steve's legacy item.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
I thought about this one: "Humanity meets gods, but at the end everybody is disappointed." I think this could go well with Rubric's Apocalypse, which could be the result of meeting gods. The general idea is following: we have an artificially created sentient lifeform, which learns about their creators. This absolutely could be a fantasy setting, actually I think it could be easier than sci-fi.

Regarding Rubric's second one (tribal magic vs. European science) - I find it more focused, and I don't know whether more focus is good for this kind of game or not. What do you think, from your experience?
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Both of those are pretty interesting.

I'll add a couple:

"Ages of exploration, colonization, and revolution from Mercury to Neptune" (I'm thinking more planetary romance than hard SF here, with retro-tech or outright magic travel and everything with a solid surface being habitable, although of course that'd be settled on later.)

"The struggle to understand and control the artifacts of an ancient civilization" (Which is typically a space opera thing, but might be interesting to move to a fantasy context as well)
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
schizoid wrote:
"Humanity meets gods, but at the end everybody is disappointed." I think this could go well with Rubric's Apocalypse, which could be the result of meeting gods. The general idea is following: we have an artificially created sentient lifeform, which learns about their creators.


Yes, I could easily see this merging with the Apocalypse idea. I don't quite understand the part about artificially created sentient lifeform. Are you saying humanity is the life form, or humanity creates the life form?

Quote:
Regarding Rubric's second one (tribal magic vs. European science) - I find it more focused, and I don't know whether more focus is good for this kind of game or not. What do you think, from your experience?


I have no experience. What do the others think? Based on examples in the book, it seems like it would still be okay. If it's too narrow, the starting point could easily be moved way back before the colonizations begin. It could possibly even go all the way back to the creation myths of the tribal cultures. This could even merge with the apocalypse and/or meeting the gods ideas as well.


JeffR23 wrote:
"Ages of exploration, colonization, and revolution from Mercury to Neptune" (I'm thinking more planetary romance than hard SF here, with retro-tech or outright magic travel and everything with a solid surface being habitable, although of course that'd be settled on later.)

"The struggle to understand and control the artifacts of an ancient civilization" (Which is typically a space opera thing, but might be interesting to move to a fantasy context as well)


Both would be fun. I like the first one a bit better, especially using retro/steam/clockwork tech, or magic as you said. Are you thinking of an Edgar Rice Burroughs atmosphere, where all the planets are already inhabited by humanoid aliens of various colors?
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Howdy all! Looking forward to the game.

My take on the Big Picture is that we should try to avoid having any extra baggage beyond what is actually stated by the Big Picture itself. Microscope is collaborative but also individual, in that nobody can be denied their input (once the Palette is set), so I think we shouldn't carry any expectations beyond what is actually written. As such, I think focus is fine, as long as its very explicit.

Rubric wrote:
"The human race slowly fades away after the Apocalypse."


Simple but compelling. I'd find this more interesting in a fantasy setting, since as stated above it's more common in sci-fi.

Rubric wrote:
"Tribal cultures draw upon ancient magics to deal with encroaching colonists."


I like the natives/colonists conflict; it can go in a lot of interesting ways. It's a bit asymmetric, though, in giving more attention to the tribes.

schizoid wrote:
"Humanity meets gods, but at the end everybody is disappointed."


I share Ken's uncertainty about how this connects to artificial lifeforms, but it's an interesting beginning.

JeffR23 wrote:
"Ages of exploration, colonization, and revolution from Mercury to Neptune"


This sounds like fun!

JeffR23 wrote:
"The struggle to understand and control the artifacts of an ancient civilization"


This sounds like a cool idea but might be a bit too focused on a particular incident for me.

I will add to the discussion:

Humanity struggles to survive at the feet of monsters.

Humanity's magic struggles against the earth's hard reality.


I'm not really sure what either of them means yet!
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Rubric wrote:
Are you saying humanity is the life form, or humanity creates the life form?

Humanity is the artificial life form.

JeffR23 wrote:

"Ages of exploration, colonization, and revolution from Mercury to Neptune" (I'm thinking more planetary romance than hard SF here, with retro-tech or outright magic travel and everything with a solid surface being habitable, although of course that'd be settled on later.)


I like this one. Regarding the tech/magic travel - I can live without any explanation at all: "it just flies and looks cool".


vestige wrote:

Humanity struggles to survive at the feet of monsters.

Humanity's magic struggles against the earth's hard reality.


I'm not really sure what either of them means yet!


I like the scond one better, probably because I understand it less It could be fun to find out what it really meant.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Rubric wrote:
Are you thinking of an Edgar Rice Burroughs atmosphere, where all the planets are already inhabited by humanoid aliens of various colors?


Certainly not outside of the realm of possibility, no. Subject to palatte decisions, of course.

It looks like we have suggestions from everyone at this point. How do we want to narrow them down to one?
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
I think that the best way would be picking the most general sentence, like "The human race slowly fades away after the Apocalypse" or Humanity struggles to survive at the feet of monsters. Both of these could potentially include revolutions from Mercury to Neptune, or meeting gods, or struggle for artifacts, or tribal cultures.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
vestige wrote:
Rubric wrote:
"Tribal cultures draw upon ancient magics to deal with encroaching colonists."


I like the natives/colonists conflict; it can go in a lot of interesting ways. It's a bit asymmetric, though, in giving more attention to the tribes.


The main reason I specified a point of view is for choosing Light or Dark tone. Basically, if you establish a new colony, is it light or dark? My first instinct is to say light, but then if you think of the people getting displaced, you can see that it is also dark. I would think there will still be plenty of room for events and scenes featuring the colonists also.


Quote:
I will add to the discussion:

Humanity struggles to survive at the feet of monsters.

Humanity's magic struggles against the earth's hard reality.


I'm not really sure what either of them means yet!


I like them both, but as you say, I'm not even sure what they mean. Both of them can be combined with other ideas that have been stated also. My first impression is that the first one is the more interesting one. It clearly shows life or death conflict and implies a power imbalance between good and evil.



JeffR23 wrote:
It looks like we have suggestions from everyone at this point. How do we want to narrow them down to one?


Should we narrow the choices down, or try to merge them?

schizoid wrote:
I think that the best way would be picking the most general sentence, like "The human race slowly fades away after the Apocalypse" or Humanity struggles to survive at the feet of monsters. Both of these could potentially include revolutions from Mercury to Neptune, or meeting gods, or struggle for artifacts, or tribal cultures.


I was thinking we would look for areas of overlap, and then possibly rewrite the sentences to include multiple suggestions.

However, I would also be happy with any of the ideas as written. I do agree that Humanity struggles to survive at the feet of monsters could include basically all the other suggestions.

I'll just throw out my three favorites (not in any particular order):
--the "feet of monsters" one
--Jeff's one about interplanetary exploration and colonization
--the one about magic-using tribal cultures being colonized.

Again, I'm fine with any of them, with or without revisions.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
It seems like we could combine the interplanetary and magic-using tribal cultures, since they both involve colonization (at least in a sense). That would clearly be a genre mashup, I know some people don't like it (I'm fine with it).

"Ages of exploration from Mercury to Neptune, where tribal alien cultures draw upon ancient magic to defend their realms from colonization."

I don't know, that seems too specific.

I'm not so sure that the feet of monsters one fits so cleanly with the others, since it implies a struggle just to survive, so not much of the freedom of exploration. Does this fit together, tonally?

"Ages of exploration and colonization from Mercury to Neptune...in the shadow of monsters threatening to destroy it all."

schizoid's point about being general is a good one, though I'm willing to start zooming in with the Big Picture before the Palette, at least a little bit. On the other hand, I feel like the first might be zooming in too much.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
vestige wrote:
It seems like we could combine the interplanetary and magic-using tribal cultures, since they both involve colonization (at least in a sense).


Great idea. It looks like we have two main themes: "Expansion, colonization, resistance" and "Gods, Apocalypse, decline, artifacts of past".

Let's choose one and add some "interplanetary" and "monsters" - these probably will fit anything?
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
vestige wrote:
I'm not so sure that the feet of monsters one fits so cleanly with the others, since it implies a struggle just to survive, so not much of the freedom of exploration. Does this fit together, tonally?

"Ages of exploration and colonization from Mercury to Neptune...in the shadow of monsters threatening to destroy it all."


It could be two different eras of history. The first half of the time line might be exploration and colonization, and the 2nd half could be the struggle to survive after monsters were uncovered during the explorations.

Quote:
schizoid's point about being general is a good one, though I'm willing to start zooming in with the Big Picture before the Palette, at least a little bit. On the other hand, I feel like the first might be zooming in too much.


Yeah, I just don't know how much detail is appropriate. I know genre elements can be added in during the palette stage, so maybe we should just strip it down to basics for now.

I'm just concerned that if it's too general, then we haven't really agreed on anything. We would just be deferring the discussion until the next phase.


schizoid wrote:
It looks like we have two main themes: "Expansion, colonization, resistance" and "Gods, Apocalypse, decline, artifacts of past".


I agree -- those seem to be the two main ideas (except that "decline" could fit into either group).

Quote:
Let's choose one and add some "interplanetary" and "monsters" - these probably will fit anything?


I would be happy with either of the two general themes. Does anybody have a preference, positive or negative? Also, is anyone unhappy with both of the general ideas?
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
I'm okay with either theme.

Also, remember that the bookends come between the BP and the palate, and that's going to involve a fair amount of zooming in, settling the "variant Earth or secondary world" issue, that kind of thing...
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
I'm okay with either one; I slightly prefer expansion because it seems a bit more off the beaten path.

And yes, some zooming in will very shortly be necessary anyway, so I'm fine with doing it now. I just don't want to get ahead of ourselves.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
vestige wrote:
I slightly prefer expansion


Let's just go with that one then, unless schizoid has strong preference for the other one, in which case we can continue discussing it.

Do we want to keep the interplanetary and/or monster concepts in the Big Picture? My thinking is that the idea of colonizing the solar system should probably be in the Big Picture. It seems to be a key piece in defining the scope of what we're talking about. Conversely, the exact nature of the "resistance" (quoting the theme) could just be hinted at.

What if we took Jeff's original phrasing, and just added the word "destruction" or maybe even "horror" to it?

Something like: "Ages of exploration, colonization, revolution, and horror, from Mercury to Neptune"
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Rubric wrote:
e: "Ages of exploration, colonization, revolution, and horror, from Mercury to Neptune"


Sure I'm ok with this theme, and I like the sentence.
Does "horror" stands for "monsters"? A bit of some global threat would be nice.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
schizoid wrote:
Does "horror" stands for "monsters"? A bit of some global threat would be nice.


It was an attempt to be general and open-ended. So, it could be monsters, global threats, ancient artifacts, or anything else that's horrible or horrifying.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
I'm okay with that sentence as our Big Picture as well, it sounds like it has lots of opportunity.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Okay, with me that makes all of us okay with that BP.

It looks like each of the bookends is going to have to settle a different big open question: the first one, wherever precisely we put it in the narrative (the first working spaceship being built/discovered/repaired/whatever, or possibly some time later after things are in full swing), is going to tell us roughly where this world's timeline diverges from our own, and inform the technology level of that side. (I could see anything between 1450 to 1850 or so working, with very different results depending on which we go with.)

And the second one is going to do a bit of defining the 'horror' element..
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Bookend periods


I guess everybody knows the rules. I'll just reiterate a couple of things for my own benefit, since I'm the only one who hasn't played before (and for possible benefit of any lurkers).

A Period is a very large chunk of time, at least decades to centuries. We need a Start period and an End period. We can create them in either order. Time continues after the End period (and before the Start period), but those eras are outside the game. This is still a collaborative phase, requiring consensus.

Each Period has three parts:
1. The description of what happens during it, which should be a few sentences to a paragraph.
2. A statement of the Tone (either "Light" or "Dark"), and if it's not obvious, an explanation for the Tone choice.
3. The short description -- this is what would be written on the card if we were sitting at a table.


Personally, I think periods should have names too, but the book doesn't list this as a requirement.


JeffR23 wrote:
where this world's timeline diverges from our own, and inform the technology level of that side. (I could see anything between 1450 to 1850 or so working, with very different results depending on which we go with.)


Yes, interesting question. My first instinct was to prefer the later end of that period, but on second thought it could be very interesting to have Christopher Columbus exploring Venus, or Hernando Cortes conquering Martians instead of Aztecs.

Quote:
defining the 'horror' element..


I agree some narrowing of options is good. Is it an alien race, a god, a natural phenomenon, a series of events, etc. Does it come from earth, or from "out there"?

We also need to decide whether the human race is going to be a focal point for the bookends. I'm assuming that's the case, but if the solar system is fully inhabited, humans could actually be the aliens.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Ok, these are things I've thought of:

Regarding the starting period - maybe a parallel to the years between discovery of America up to mass emigration to USA (16th-19th century? - if I remember right, the rule book advises on not putting exact dates, otherwise it's impossible to wedge new periods between existing ones). This period starts with discovery of interplanetary flight (how exactly - later in the game) and ends with it becoming an affordable way of travelling for everybody. This should be a "Light" period of new hope, emancipation, discoveries etc.

The ending period - how about the source of magical interplanetary flight suddenly disappears? Human colonizers are stuck on unfriendly worlds with no means for communication with other planets/Earth. It's not a complete end of the human race, but everything is rather hopeless.

Regarding the "horror" element - I think it could be unknown alien (alien even to the Solar System) force.

The focal point - let's say mainly humans, but we will be able to switch if needed when the story gets to specific locations.

What do you think?
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Ken H.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
schizoid wrote:
Ok, these are things I've thought of:

Regarding the starting period - maybe a parallel to the years between discovery of America up to mass emigration to USA (16th-19th century? - if I remember right, the rule book advises on not putting exact dates, otherwise it's impossible to wedge new periods between existing ones). This period starts with discovery of interplanetary flight (how exactly - later in the game) and ends with it becoming an affordable way of travelling for everybody. This should be a "Light" period of new hope, emancipation, discoveries etc.


I like it. The discovery of flight doesn't have to be at the beginning of the period, just during it. This allows for the possibility of events before the discovery.

One thing I would add is to say that early space flights were tentative and dangerous, and severely limited in range. For example, moon flights would sometimes succeed, Mars or Venus rarely, and further than that almost never. The purpose is to avoid opening up the entire solar system in the first Period. I would like to have later periods where technological developments allow greater range and reliability.

Quote:
The ending period - how about the source of magical interplanetary flight suddenly disappears? Human colonizers are stuck on unfriendly worlds with no means for communication with other planets/Earth. It's not a complete end of the human race, but everything is rather hopeless.


This is not really grabbing me, but I could be persuaded. I was thinking of a "Light" period, where humanity throws off the shackles of oppression and regains it's freedom. I suppose this could coincide with a change in the flight technology.

Quote:
Regarding the "horror" element - I think it could be unknown alien (alien even to the Solar System) force.


The more I think about it, we should have multiple "horrors". One could be a single powerful alien (or even god-like being) from outside the solar system. Another might be an aggressive race on one of the planets. One could be weird visions (dead relatives, etc.) that appear on a particular moon or planet. There could even be spooky stuff happening on Earth itself. Whether these different horrors are related would be discovered along the way.

Then again, additional "horrors" might be palette material, and don't necessarily have to be decided right now.

Quote:
The focal point - let's say mainly humans, but we will be able to switch if needed when the story gets to specific locations.


Yes, I agree.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
I agree with much of the discussion - focusing on humans, yes, and I like the idea of the opening period being the pre-industrial discovery of space flight, however it ends up working. Definitely a Light tone for that one.

Personally I'd prefer a Light tone for the last period as well. What if humanity realizes that the magic of spaceflight is what is creating/attracting the horrors (or at least the worst of them), so gives it up? That could be an interesting blend of light and dark.

For the horrors themselves, I was thinking along the lines of something inadvertently uncovered by exploration, or awoken by those resisting the colonization - something much bigger than humanity and barely understood. I'm not too excited by an alien incursion from beyond the solar system, which seems too straightforward (and almost a plot element imposed from above). I'm sure there are ways to make it more unique, but they are not occurring to my sleep-deprived mind at the moment.
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Re: new PbF game -- to be named later
Okay, I was originally thinking of the 'ages' as being sequential, with 'horror' as the last one, but it looks like we're headed toward something more like it being baked in through the entire timeline.

The alternatives places for horrors to originate other than another solar system would be the distant past (in a 'long-sleeping' sense), the future (which would imply time travel, which is strongly advised against), another dimension of some sort, or one of the places in or nearby the solar system that we aren't otherwise using (inside the Sun, inside gas giants?, way out in the Oort cloud...)

Any of those seem sufficiently interesting? (Could easily be a combination, especially involving the distant past part, since depending on how closely related our aliens end up to humans there may be a strongly implied act of transplanting in the deep past that'll need someone to have done it...)

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