Monday, 27 August 2012

Dark Stars Map v2

Dark Stars Sphere Map v2
This is the new and improved version of the Dynastic Sphere map. I have added a couple more worlds since this previous one, and marked the major Beacon Worlds. Actually this is as good a time as any to talk a bit about how people move around in Dark Stars.

The Gate Worlds are interconnected (as shown on the map) allowing near instant transportation between adjoining worlds. These permanent gates also facilitate FTL comms and interconnectivity of Dynastic nets. Most (but not all) of the Gate Hubs are under the control Covenant, a politically neutral, ut secretive society of Techno Magi, capable of manipulating the gate workings and reopening the lost portals.

The greatest concentration of Gates exist on Junction, though most of these gate rotes link Junction with other planets and moons within the same solar system. The world is of central importance to the Covenant. Junction is also one of three worlds (Hope, and Minerva being the other two) that for the Inter world Market. A massive street market established on the concourses of the Gate Hubs that allow merchants and buyers to walk between worlds to reach and trade with different stall holders. Essentially one huge marker stretching between three worlds.

Each of the Gate Worlds is also the hub of a local cluster of Beacon Worlds which are accessible through a form of hyperspace. While hyperspace allows FTL transport it is much slower than using the gate network, often taking weeks to reach a destination by starship. As such most Beacon Worlds are considered backwaters by the Dynastic Families. Although there are score of independent operators, and even the Dynasties maintain small fleets, the greatest jump capable power is the Junkers who rebelled against Dynastic authority during the early days of the Sphere.

The Junkers have an unparalleled understanding of hyperspace, many having charted the strange eddies and ripples in the sub-space medium allowing them to make much faster and more accurate jumps than anyone else. The Junkers have long since cast off a planet bound existence to live in space habs, lunar colonies, starships, and the great nomad cities (imagine cloud city with a hyperdrive!). The known jump routes of three of these nomad cities are now marked on the star map.

Notice that the there are limitations on travel, gate travel will only get you so far, starship travel is only part of the answer, as each of the local space zones marked as so far distant from one another it is generally not possible to take a ship from one to another.

Lastly, I did get asked about aliens, well there is an alien homeworld marked on the star map. Thats should give you a clue about one of the alien races that will be included in the Dark Stars setting, but I'm going to leave you to speculate about it.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Why "Dark Stars"?

Dark Stars for Infinity Core

I got asked the other day where the name "Dark Stars" came from, and whether the name was simply a rip off of Fading Suns. I have to say that its not, but it does require some explanation.

A long time ago I wrote a game called "A Dark Earth", it was a post apocalyptic setting, in which electronics had been knocked out, mechanical stuff worked, but electronics didn't. The title referenced that from the colonies Earth was now appeared dark, dead, and lifeless because there where no longer any transmissions of any kind.

Dark Stars is a reference to the same concept, many (most) of the civilised worlds of the Commonwealth have gone dark, their tech destroyed or suppressed to keep them hidden from whatever  threat brought about the Collapse and the end of Human supremacy. Without transmissions, without hyper beacons, those worlds are effectively lost... hence Dark Stars.

The definition of a Dark Age, is a period of time in which there is little writing or culture to carry society. That the worlds are "dark" because technology / communication isn't working makes sense.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Sorry: A Slight Delay

After promising that the Infinity Core Playtest would be out by GenCon, we have hit a small snag. Basically, editing my work is quite an intensive process, I am dyslexic and do not spell very well. My poor editor, Jason Wallace, is off to GenCon himself, and could not complete one of the chapters in the time that he had.

We could have just sent the document out unedited. But Dammi and I agreed that it would be better to delay until Jason can complete the job upon his return. Again I offer my apologies for not hitting the deadline. I hope you guys can hold on a little longer.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Dark Stars Technology

Dark Stars for Infinity Core

The last thousand years of human history have been a tale of ruin. As mankind reached the Transcendant levels of technology a great war broke out between the various human factions. The specifics remain unknown, or at least unclear, and much was lost as whole planets burned, stars where snuffed out, and weapons of such terrible power were used without restraint or concern for any long term goal.

Some amongst the Dynasties Immortals have memories that stretch back before the great collapse. They saw millions of worlds sundered from each other as the gate network failed or was systematically destroyed. Some historians claim that humanity was the greatest power in the Universe, first amongst all other sentients, looked upon as gods by many of the uplifted races.

Whatever the truth, however it came to pass, mankind fell from grace, and is now but a shadow of its former glory. Instead of a vast Commonwealth that spanned galaxies there are a few surviving pocket empires, adrift, alone amongst the Dark Stars.

Technology is essential to the Dark Stars Universe, it gives raise and legitimacy to the political power of the various factions. It raises the Dynasties above the level of the common man, provides the means by which the Covenant bridge the immense distances between worlds, and gives the Junkers their freedom to move beyond the grasp of a stagnant social order. 

Below is a rough guide to the technology levels used in the Dark Stars setting.

Technology Levels
0: Pre-Agrarian
Hunter-Gatherer culture, stone tools, barter

1: Ancient Period
Agriculture, domestication of beasts, writing, metal tools, money

2: Pre-Industrial
Engineering, printed word, credit

3: Industrial Revolution
Internal combustion engine, atmospheric flight, gun powder weapons

4: Information Age
Computer and networks, information sharing, trans-atmospheric flight, space travel, kinetic kill weapons, guided munitions, AI, fission power, ion drives

5: Inter Solar Era
Sub-luminal extra solar space flight, lance weapons, fusion power, fusion drives

6: FTL Era, First Diaspora Era – Trans Human
Super-luminal space flight, plasma weapons, anti-matter power

7: First Sphere – Superior Human
Shield Technology, nano-fabication, macrostructures,

8: Second Sphere, Reunification Era – Prime Human
Gate Technology, FTL Comms,

9: Commonwealth of Man Era – Post Human
Matter / Energy conversion fabrication, teleportation

10: Transcendence Era – Beyond Human
Quantile fabrication systems, destiny imprinting, existential mechanics

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Dark Stars for Infinity Core

Dark Stars Project : Inter Worlds Gate Map
So far I have mainly talked about the Infinity Core, the revisions and ideas I have for improving the system mechanics and getting the open playtest underway. There is still a lot to do on the Infinity Core, mostly in peripheral add ons to the core, cybernetics, psychic powers, and more.

I think its more than time that I start talking about the Dark Stars setting that I'm working on. Above you can see a quick 'Gate Map' that I knocked up to help present the lay of the land. This map is not complete, it only marks the 'Gate Worlds' which are directly linked by permanent stable wormholes that permit almost instant transit between the surface or one world to the surface of another. There are also many in-system gates that link worlds within the same solar system.

All the names on the map are subject to change. 'Charr' for example, the system where the 'Abandoned Hope' adventure takes place is a 'Beacon World' in Quarantine's local cluster. This means it is a world that can be accessed by a starship with an FTL manifold drive, but there is no direct gate there, and as such is a backwater world that is rarely visited by the Dynasties and plays only a minor role in the politics of the sphere.

All comments welcome.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Infinity Core Update 11

I set myself the target of getting the Infinity Core playtest out to the public by GenCon 2012 and time is now catching up with me. In order to give Jason Wallace an opportunity to make an editing pass, before Dammi assembles the files for download, I have had to draw a line under the work that has been done.

I will not pretend that the system is as complete as I would like, I have had to cut the lifepath at the last minute because it requires more development time to shape it up the way I want it to work. So there will only be the points buy option in the playtest.

Cybernetics and Psychic powers will not make into this draft either. But I will likely make them available down the line. I want the playtest to focus on the core mechanical elements, to make sure that they work before I start adding sub systems.

As previously mentioned the playtest will be run through the Vagrant Workshop, so if you would like to take part, please make sure that you have signed up to the Vagrant forums.

I will post further details when I have a go live date.