View Full Version : Drift: Campaign Setting (Basic Concept. Imaginative suggestions appreciated.)

2011-08-12, 01:49 AM

Drift is an apparently barren ball of sand and rock which orbits the local binary star far too closely for comfort. The world is plagued by temporal and gravitational anomalies which drags everything from passing comets to warp-jumping colony ships into the planet's gravity well. These extraterrestrial objects may cause cataclysmic impacts, or opportunities for inhabitants to gather scarce resources. Any crash survivors find themselves locked in combat with other factions for these resources. The most important of which is water, because the growth of a population always comes down to how much water they can gather and recycle.

Aside from the short nights, the moons provide the only respite from the heat as their improbably shifting orbits result in a high frequency of eclipses. This ends up being a two edged sword as fateful shade can be the difference between life and death when seeking shelter, but it also creates temperature fluctuations which rapidly whip up devastating storms.

It is a dead end in time and space. Inescapable and unconquerable, Drift slowly grows from the inevitable erosion and decay of anything unfortunate enough to land on its volatile surface. Everything that touches the surface is eventually ground down and absorbed into the ocean of dusty crystal that blows across the endless plains in seasonal sandstorms. The sands often smooth and sculpt the landscape, but can also deposit matter into new rock formations. The surface features change constantly. One day a small settlement may be erected in a valley between massive dunes that have existed for hundreds of years, and another day it can be blown away as the sand and wind create new drift formations and expose ruins and rusting wreckage that had been lying untouched hundreds of feet beneath the unsuspecting inhabitants. The world is a chaotic ocean of rock and crystal with large sand dunes acting as ripples on the ocean surface while the drifts (dunes with the height and span of mountain ranges) move across the surface as waves and tides, with the only true land being mountains of the most enduring substance and plains of smooth rock blown clean of sand by recent and powerful storms.

Occasionally temporal rifts reveal patches of ancient and sweltering jungle, temples, and abandoned utopian metropoli from a time when life thrived in the sunlight. Too often though, the locations where these resources phase into existence happen to be covered by large sand drifts

The players take on the roles of survivors of a colony ship that has been rendered inoperable and half buried from the impact of it's descent. Any technology that can operate independent from the ship chassis has been cannibalized for use in scouting and acquisition of any available resources.
A small city has been set up in the wreckage and teams are being assembled to scout and secure locations that can provide vital resources.

The game is centered around the idea that the player factions has access to cloning facilities. Any deaths that occur while the squad has a connection to the faction network will allow them to respawn with minimal loss
3.x and d20 future will be used for mechanics, feat support, abilities, etc. but new class options for the setting include:

The Faction Network
The mainframe and comm equipment of the player's colony ship has been returned to a reasonable level of functionality and is used to provide them with a leg up over their competition. Planetary anomalies interfere with nearly any transmission making communication difficult, and limiting most interaction and reconnaissance to line-of-sight. The player's faction network allows use of a device called a Proxy Beacon which warps time and space allowing communications, data streams, and even energy/matter transfer over vast distances (with matter transfer requiring an exorbitant amount of energy to use reliably). The Beacon is the squad's lifeline. It is capable of powering devices in it's proximity, and manifesting a wide range of effects and defenses. Proximity allows meany features of classes, weapons, and armor to function at a higher level or for a longer duration when in range of the beacon. Heavy weapons will have their recoil enhanced, armor will gain a boost to it's active defenses, personal cloaks will be maintained indefinitely, tools can repair or construct at an accelerated rate, and wounds will be surgically re-knit with AI precision, depending on proximity level with the beacon. Faction vehicles deplete energy rapidly when not under the effects of Proximity.
Proxy Beacons are rare items because of their complexity, difficulty to manufacture, and dependence on exotic materials so they are considered the most valuable thing a squad can posses, and a disaster if lost or destroyed.

Colony Size
Could scale from just the squad to even millions if you're feeling ambitious.
Although the intended size for this setting is a moderately large ship with a few thousand survivors. That would provide a small community with a reasonable defensive force and allow for other scouting/combat squads in addition to the player squad.

Tech Ops: [Tech Wizard] The tech ops class provides technomage-like utility abilities while maintaining the squads connection to the faction network (proximity to a tech ops character allows special features of equipment and squad functionality to work at their maximum potential) through a Network Proxy Beacon that can cut through the planet's fog of war and provide remote communications as well as power supply to the squad. His primary goal is anchoring the squad and providing buff support to his teammates. His secondary goal is assisting the Scrapper in salvaging and tech reclamation.

Hover Pilot: [Active intel and support early game, Transport and air superiority late game] The hover pilot starts off with personal transport technology such as jump packs or hoverboards which affords him easy access to multiple levels of terrain and structures and a good view to paint targets for the squad and provide suppressing fire (much like a more mobile Tau Pathfinder). His primary goal is to give the squad a clear understanding of what's happening in the battle and apprising them of any opportunities to exploit the map or enemies. His secondary goal is to suppress enemy units until squadmates can deal with them and provide responsive backup to any squadmates who become isolated or overwhelmed.

Soldier: [Fighter] Frontline combatant. Uses shield and slugblade (shotgun/sword) to get "stuck in" with enemies, and uses heavy weapons to deal with hardened infantry, bunkers, and vehicles.

Scrapper: [Artificer] Repairs squad tech, reclaims/converts discovered alien tech, and improves squad equipment.

Ghost: [Stealth, Assassination] Cloaked unit that can weaken primary targets or single out and eliminate weaker targets.

Scout: [Sniper/Skirmisher] Provides long range fire support, hit and run attacks, and uses exotic rifles.

Medic: [Healing] Heals people through surgery or advanced tech (depending on tech level). Can reset clone body onsite before consciousness is sent back through network.

Exo-Jockey: [Tank, Adaptive operation] The Exo Jockey uses power armor and is trained to interface with technology to the point where he can control almost anything as an extension of his body. Can quickly interface with foreign technology (eg. turret controls, comm networks, remote vehicle controls, UAV's, etc.)

Drifter: [Survivalist] Planetary natives who travel between crash sites and adapt to differing cultures and environments. 1/3 Hobo, 1/3 Badass, 1/3 Rugged Wiseman. Has good senses, good survivability, and a Pack of Random Salvage (% chance to have a relevant item). Less dependent on network tech than other classes.

Missions will be tactically oriented for the most part with the occasional pure adventure arc coming into play whenever new insights are sought into the more mysterious aspects of the world.

In order to streamline gameplay and book keeping I'm taking a page from some fps conventions in that each class has a specific number of slots in addition to their signature class weapons. For example, the Tech Ops class is more suited to battlefield management and support than straight combat, so he will only have 1 slot for a sidearm or personal defense weapon with any weapons beyond that providing encumbrance penalties regardless of the load he is carrying. As far as sundry items are concerned this setting does assume that a certain amount of miniaturization has been achieved by the player faction and most practical items won't be very large (stim syringes instead of red and blue bottles) so they should always have basic needs fulfilled without having to lug around large backpacks or bags of holding (that's what vehicle support is for). Squads are intended to be mobile and responsive so they won't be carrying around 200 lbs of loot "just because it might be useful sometimes. Following this logic, less emphasis will be placed on looting everything in sight and more will be placed on improving the quality of equipment that the player is automatically requisitioned from a quartermaster at the beginning of a mission.
Items will have a timeline based tech progression like d20 future where players have requisitioned equipment below their tech level for free, class specific items at their current tech level for minimal cost, with the tech allowances increasing with level and plot considerations. Non-requisition items may be lost on death, with a chance for the items to be returned in various situations. The idea is to promote an environment where classes are not set in stone, you can choose what you will need for a mission, and have the freedom to level the character in different classes (much like you would in TF2, Battlefield, or other class based games)

Part of the goal here is to reduce the desire to unnecessarily split the party by providing more incentives for mutual support (protecting the wizard instead of running off somewhere will actually boost the rogue's dps and stealth abilities.)

2011-08-12, 07:20 AM
It's like a horrifying miscagenation of Dark Sun and Arduin . . .

I like it!

2011-08-13, 10:48 AM
Thank you! :)

Now that I have reached the safety of the weekend I'll start fleshing it out with better detail.

Any ideas or contributions are welcome and appreciated.

2011-08-14, 07:53 AM
The only contribution I would add would be to nix the idea of having a readily available cloning facility from which players can "respawn." It's FAR to video gamey for my tastes.

However, it might make an excellent mid-term adventuring goal. Finding the parts to repair the cloning facility so that the wealthy and powerful of the colony that the players hail from don't have to face death. The PC's reward might be some limited access to the facility.

2011-08-14, 12:01 PM
very cool idea

would it be a humans only setting or would other alien races have been marooned on the planet in the past?
does it have any indigenous life or is it all the result of crashed spacecraft?

2011-08-15, 08:31 AM
Another minor recommendation: Read both a bit of Jack Vance's Dying Earth stuff, and a bit of Arduin. They will inspire you greatly.

I specifically see Phraints, Vroats, and Deodanths in this setting as being great fun. Not to mention Panda-Hai, Khai-Shang, and Khai-Zirrin.