View Full Version : Feedback on a space opera setting.

Iron Angel
2015-11-28, 09:49 AM
Fair warning, theres a lot of reading here. I want to get feedback on the races I have created, as well as the overarching plot I plan to implement. Without further adieu:

Humans haven't changed a great deal from the time they first set sail into the vast unknown of space. Genetic modification has become commonplace, and is in most instances hereditary- Everything from mutation resistance to immunity from most common diseases has been implanted into the human genome for decades. While levels of modification vary from area to area, health and immunity-based genetic modifications are relatively inexpensive, though venturing beyond these basic vitality focused adaptations begins to become steeply expensive as you venture into experimental and custom-tailored DNA modification. Regardless, Terrans are, for the most part, visually indistinguishable from average humans- Long-term infantry notwithstanding.
Compared to other races, Terran technology is impressive in its efficiency. It may not be the sturdiest, or the deadliest, or the most cutting-edge, but it is effective and does its job. The true genius of the Terran Protectorate lies in its vast and extensive knowledge of the Terran genome, and their ability to modify it without the drastic and horrifying effects of gene modification other races generally experience. Terran colonists are generally immunized thoroughly and have their nervous systems enhanced to resist stress and increase awareness. Most genetic modifications are permanent, and many will be passed to any children the individual creates. More than basic genetic modification can render individuals impotent, as their DNA is no longer capable of splicing with another human's unless their partner shares similar gene mods. This has led to control of genetic modification and all number of waivers and legal red tape to avert population crisis. Infantry, Colonial Defense Forces, Marines, and other combat-oriented careers tend to be for life as a result of military specific gene mods, which create super-dense musculature, extremely hard skeletons, heightened senses, generally increased physical size, and enhanced adrenal functions, all of which render them impotent as well as making them "too strong for their own good", as it were.
The Terran protectorate is loosely democratic, with representatives from each colony and major core world faction, then senators that represent colony sectors or core planets. As a result, change within the protectorate is slow and deliberate but carefully weighed. Some changes can take years to implement as senators debate and argue about the far-reaching implications decisions may have. Many refer to the Terran government as inept as a result, but Terrans consider these steps integral to carefully considering all outcomes. As a result, change is infrequent and slow, but rarely is it harmful.
Terran life is based on choice and general freedom. They are capitalistic, and the vast expanses of space have allowed both corporate interests and adventurous explorers to make their marks on the stars. With no foreseeable shortage of resources, and no foreseeable shortage of need for skilled and unskilled labor to handle the resultant work demands, Terran life is very industrial and commercially-based, and most Terrans are wealthy enough to live comfortably in established colonies or core worlds.
Terran military doctrine is based on mixed unit tactics. Terrans are very tactically minded, so though their military forces are not the most impressive, they are able to hold their own against threats. Terran military forces consist of many varied pieces of equipment and roles, each supplementing one another and expertly manipulated by experienced high-ranking staff to be as effective as possible. Most military materiel is produced by Hexiron Corporation, a powerful contracting firm that owns an entire planet specifically for military operations. They produce most of the armaments used by bounty hunters, adventurers, and mercenaries of all species.
The Terran Protectorate is in a state of uneasy peace with the Tholun and the Sect. The Tholun's extremely heavy industrialization and planetary mining has encroached on Terran corporate interests many times, and the Tholun are nothing if not stubborn, and while they have agreed not to interject into Terran mining operations, they have stepped up mining speed to simply outharvest the Terrans. The Sect, on the other hand, colonize every planet they come across, inhabited or not, which has led to some violent conflict as both sides claim ownership of the planet. Both sides have agreed not to colonize one another's planets to avoid further bloodshed. Their relationship with the Vashyr is one of general anxiety, as the Vashyr could possibly wipe out the Terrans with a protracted war, but the Vashyr have not declared the Terrans to be in violation of any of their rules, so their attitude towards the Terrans is blissful indifference. The Ulna are very friendly towards the Terrans, and have expressed extreme interest in Terran goods, and could be said to be starstruck by the bright lights and shiny exterior of Terran marketing. They are regular trading partners as a result.
The Terrans occupy a small amount of space, but have seventeen well-established colonies and four highly developed core worlds. One of these worlds is a colossal military construction yard and R&D facility shrouded by a thick haze of dust and smoke. Terran policies are generally considered pushy and inflexible to other council races but Terrans are compromising enough to make deals. The two biggest Terran players in the galactic sphere are Hexiron Corporation, which manufactures almost all weapons and military materiel for the Terran Protectorate, and sells some of these items galaxy-wide, and DNAscendance Group, the largest biomedical firm and the primary research and distribution organization for genetic modification. Though their efforts generally benefit only humans, they have applied their understanding to gene mods for other council races as well, resulting in expensive but generally effective gene mods for most major races.
Terrans are simple but hardy. They have Disease Resistance, and Toxin Resistance as gene mods by default and select between several packages containing additional gene mods at character generation. Terrans can buy any item from the Hexiron Corporation and DNAscendance Group catalogues by default (though certain items must still be licensed).

Ulna Ascendancy
The Ulna developed on a world with a much thicker, hotter atmosphere and higher gravity than that of Terra. They are roughly the height of a human when hunched over, which is the posture they generally adopt, and when erect can stand up to seven feet tall. They are hairy and heavily muscled, but slow and ponderous compared to most other races. They move deliberately and surely, and have small beady eyes that peer out from flat, vibrantly marked white and black-furred faces. They are herbivorous, and can eat their entire body weight in vegetable matter in a single sitting. This is common for them to do, as they eat only once every two days and allow their digestive tract to process what it has been given. With access to foreign food, the Ulna have experimented with more frequent and much smaller meals to fulfil their nutritional needs, with mixed success. Though the enhanced nutrition means shorter mealtimes and less cost, their slower nature means taking time out of the day to eat consumes a great deal of time. They are capable of great bursts of activity, but are generally winded quickly. They find alien races utterly fascinating as well.
The Ulna are not fast, but they are quite strong and intelligent. They produce their own line of heavier weaponry, filling a niche left open by the Vashyr, the Terrans, and the Tholun (A niche some would argue exists for a reason; The strength to use such weapons unmounted is rare). The Ulna also have perfected "living machinery", in the sense that they can "grow" metallic machines from blueprints. Most Ulna technology uses this in some way, and this makes it very inexpensive, if considerably more time-consuming, to produce. More expensive and rare pieces of Ulna technology can even "heal" if submerged in a solution containing appropriate atomized materials. This inanimate intelligence is a closely guarded secret to the Ulna, as they consider it a gift that was bestowed upon them. The Ulna do not despise regular manufacturing, and use it themselves; In fact, they find the type of manufacturing other races do fascinating, if somewhat wasteful.
The Ulna are guided by a council of elders which reside on their homeworld. These elders ponder the sociopolitical climate and make sweeping decisions. They are very observant of tradition and history, and are almost mystical in their nature. The Ulna all hold great respect for the council of elders, and support their decisions and heed their laws without question, knowing the council has made the decision it feels is right. That said, Ulna rules and regulations are very simple and left mostly up to the individual, with just a core set of rules. This generally makes trade and formal government sanctions with them a nightmare as they lack the wide-spanning formal governmental agencies other races have, and thus can seem highly inconsistent from individual to individual.
Ulna are a generally peaceful race, and are communal by nature. While they understand currency, they see it as trivial and unnecessary within their own insular communities, though they keep foreign currency for use with trade of outsiders. Ulna within their own communities are expected to help each other in any way they can, with no expectation of compensation (though it is polite to compensate the helper in some way, and almost unheard of for a good deed to go unpaid). In return, they will recieve the same treatment. Ulna extend this communal bond to any outsiders they consider close enough to have earned it, though this is usually on a per-individual basis, as are most things with the Ulna. Ulna do not trust quickly however, as they see most outsiders, barring the Vashyr, as being fickle, selfish, and unpredictable.
One would imagine such a gentle race to have been conquered already, but the Ulna are not pushovers. They are large, powerful, and crafty, and the unique nature of their technology allows them to replenish damaged materiel much more quickly than other races. They are also experts at guerilla warfare and ambush, and the fact that they prefer large, heavily forested planets with high gravity makes their tactics much more formidable. Assaulting an Ulna planet is largely considered to be a fruitless effort, and generally not worth it even if a victory were possible due to the immense losses one would sustain.
The Ulna are fond of the Terrans and the glamorous marketing and theatrics they produce, and are Humanity's primary general goods trading partner. They are also engaged in a cold war with the Sect- The first time the Sect attempted to "colonize" an Ulna world, they were wiped out. The sect have declared they will not cease attempted colonization until the Ulna apologize- Something the Ulna have declared they will never do. They are indifferent towards the Vashyr, who generally avoid Ulna worlds knowing they are resource sinks to claim. They are suspicious of the Tholun, but do trade with them. The Tholun know better than to attempt to nudge in on the fiercely protective Ulna, though the thought crosses their mind regularly.
The Ulna have two colony worlds and nine core worlds, more than any other race by a large margin. The Ulna prefer to take a planet from colonial to fully developed before expanding, which also explains their low colony count. They have little competition for resources, as the worlds they prefer are generally inhospitable to other races- They have thick atmospheres, dense forestation, and high gravity, all of which generate discomfort for other major races. The largest presence the Ulna have on a galactic scale are the Tivan Group, which produces both Ulna heavy weapons and body armor, and also hires out professional mercenaries to causes the Tivan Group's leader sees as worthy. Tivan mercs are some of the most feared in the galaxy, as they are heavily armed and thoroughly professional, seeing their work as their pride and believing that their image translates to the Ulna image as a whole.
Ulna are large, strong, and somewhat slow. Their personalities are generally noble and gentle, though this is by no means universal. They tire quicker than other races, and also have lower lifestyle costs as they desire fewer comforts and their food is generally inexpensive. They are also finely coordinated and generally likeable. They can select up to a certain amount in Ulna equipment at character generation.

The Vashyr are a bizarre, if imposing, sight. They are tall, the tallest reaching eight feet, but very slender and have long limbs. They are nocturnal, and have most of the species traits that come along with this. They have very large, alert eyes, and pallid, almost-white skin, partially contributed to by their odd Iodine-based blood. They have a bony Y-shaped ridge that encompasses the bridges of their narrow noses and eyebrows. As a result, Vashyr are facially unexpressive and appear to bear a permanent scowl. They are extremely intelligent and perceptive as well, and can do complicated logic with little effort. They developed on a low gravity world, but have compensated for this with mechanical movement assistance. Most Vashyr wear a mechanical exoskeleton of some sort in addition to a regular physical workout regimen.
Vashyr have two very intimidating forces: Their infantry and their fleet. Vashyr ships are the best in the galaxy, and it isn't close. They have the smallest fleet, but that fleet is composed of the largest, most dangerous, and most intimidating ships in the galaxy. Vashyr value quality over quantity in all things, and their equipment shows it. Vashyr also make the most highly-prized and highest-quality powered suits of armor in the galaxy. Such suits have been likened to wearing a very agile tank. Vashyr are experts in all mechanical sciences, though their rigid doctrine outlaws a great many things.
The Vashyr are led by the Valykrinadar, a single individual that governs all things. The Valykrinadar is not, however, a dictator that rules in their own name. The Vashyr are bound by the Vashyr Doctrine, so much so they named themselves after it. The Doctrine determines all things, and is considered infallible and immutable. The Valyknrinadar's only purpose is to interpret the proper course of action in any situation the Doctrine does not explicitly cover, and even then, such a decision must be justified using the Doctrine as a guide. The Doctrine itself is widely available, but the original text is carved upon a colossal three-sided obsidian monolith on their home world. The Vashyr, however, did not make it; In fact, they do not know where it came from, only that it always was there.
Vashyr are serious and severe by nature, but are slow to real anger unless presented with obvious injustice or blatant disregard for the Doctrine. They are mostly indifferent, and view most outsiders as curiosities or hazards. Making friends with a Vashyr is extremely difficult, but they are fiercely loyal once their friendship is won. They are poor conversationalists, preferring to say as few words as possible to communicate their intended message, and prolonged conversation and small talk will visibly irritate them. They live very structured, orderly lives, all determined by the Doctrine, though there are outliers- Those with more personal freedom due to less responsibility, and those who have abandoned the doctrine altogether, which the Vashyr no longer see as Vashyr, but as Adyta, which is an entirely different race to their perspective and no longer worthy of Vashyr status or respect. It is important to note Vashyr take tampering of the body very seriously, and will not undergo any procedure that changes their body or genes- They will generally refuse to even get piercings, though the Doctrine does not forbid makeup, though tattoos are still in question and are generally considered to be acceptable if modest and monotone.
The Vashyr military is generally speaking the smallest in number of any major race by a significant margin. However, the Vashyr doctrine stresses quality over quantity in all things, and as a result, Vashyr-produced weapons and powered armor are easily the best in the galaxy and usually have accompanying price tags. The Vashyr shy away from armored vehicles or long-range weapons such as artillery, as they consider it a matter of honor to die in battle. Their fleet is also the strongest in the galaxy, with the Moon Silver (Khadahala) being the single largest ship in existence, dwarfing even some space stations. This ship is also the home of the Valykrinadar when the Vashyr are at war.
The Vashyr are engaged in a bitter and bloody war with the Sect, one the Sect would be handily losing if their superior numbers did not allow them to consistently outmaneuver and outrun the Vashyr war machine. The Sect attempted to "colonize" a Vashyr world. Unlike the Ulna, who simply repelled the invaders and dared them to try again, the Vashyr actively declared the Sect enemies of the Vashyr and demanded their total surrender. The Sect refused, and the Vashyr counterattacked with an invasion of a nesting colony. The Sect, outraged, have been fighting them since, and the war only ever escalates. The other council races they see as non-threats, and are indifferent to.
The Vashyr's limited numbers mean their considerable military might can only be in one place at a time, and the bulk of it is currently tied up attempting to bludgeon the Sect into submission. The Vashyr are still spread far, however, with three core worlds and nine colony worlds. Vashyr are uncommon as they are not as numerous as other races, due both to low breeding and a preference for smaller planets. Nonetheless, the long arm of the Vashyr is plainly visible in most locations as the Valykrin, the professional military of the Vashyr, maintain regular guard posts and patrols in most populous sectors. Despite their dangerous repuation, they have been an important factor in keeping pirates in check (Even if the Vashyr are just looking out for their own interests), though with the number of Vashyr patrols and ships down, it has become harder for the Vashyr to manage them, placing a heavier burden on the Tholun and the Terrans.
Vashyr are extremely intelligent and analytical, though despite their imposing height they are not physically capable without an exoskeleton. Their large, contrast-sensitive eyes are very perceptive and can pick up details most would not even be able to see, as well as being able to see in low light conditions. Vashyr and Adyta are identical at chargen minus their fervor, and can select a budget of equipment from the Vashyr armory. They also start with a basic locomotion exoskeleton.

Tholun Empire
Tholun are short, most being roughly 4.5 feet, but don't let their height fool you- They are heavily muscular and their skin has armored plates on the shoulders and forearms. They vaguely resemble short, broad humans, with some key differences. Firstly, they tend to have a great deal more body and facial hair, though some Tholun females have taken up the Terran tradition of shaving (usually any who are required to work with Terrans). They have small, beady eyes and thick, furrowed brows, with large, wide noses. Their sight is diminished, but their sense of smell and taste are superb- Likely a result of having developed as a subterranean species. They have tan, ruddy skin, and broad, thick, smooth dermal plates on their shoulders and arms, usually colored red to brown to almost black. Their short, stocky bodies and strong skin and muscles have helped them adapt to a life underground easily. They are also very resistant to pollutants and have a hardy digestive tract.
Tholun are master large-scale engineers, making the most widely used and most reliable construction and industrial equipment in the galaxy, and having some of the most prominent construction firms, both atmospheric and vacuum. They are also a primary producer of raw materials in the galaxy, being the most prominent miners. They engineer mining operations on planet-sized scales, and can strip a planet of its more easily attained resources within several years. This, of course, has its drawbacks. The world is permanently ruined afterwards, usually by a combination of excessive pollution and major surface marring. Council rules dictate that only barren worlds, already incapable of supporting colonies or sentient life, may be exploited in such a way, but the Tholun move on asteroids as quickly as any other resource and are in the process of stripping several asteroid fields completely, a process many consider invasive. They are also premier hydrogen and helium harvesters, both of which are still important fuel sources for non-antimatter drive cores. Terrans and Vashyr outproduce them in terms of antimatter, and the Sect and Ulna are not far behind, but old practices die hard with the Tholun, and they will still turn profit as long as ships that run on fusion cores still exist.
The Tholun are ruled by a Triumvirate. Each member of the Triumvirate represents a different caste of Tholun citizens. The first is the Warrior caste leader, who is responsible for the military. The second is the Merchant caste leader, who is responsible for trade and alien relations. The third is the Worker caste leader, who is responsible for the massive Tholun workforce. The three deliberate on decisions and discuss how each one will affect the other, and make decisions based on a vote if they cannot all come to an agreement. This leader is chosen through rank and history, the most exemplary of each caste being chosen to represent their people as a whole. As a result, the members of the Triumvirate are often the most intelligent and most capable members of their whole race.
Tholun thrive in a caste-based society, where each individual has a specific job that they stay in for life, and are expected to work towards the betterment of their caste and the Tholun as a whole. Caste warfare is highly frowned upon, though not unheard of, but the Triumvirate tries to make sure everyone understands that each caste needs the others equally. Castes are, in almost all cases, something you are born into, though in a rare display of social progress this has begun to show a bit more malleability and individuals displaying proficiencies that would be more useful in a different caste may be selected to change. Such a thing is uncommon, but it does happen. In this system, every individual is guaranteed work, pay, and a place to sleep, though some leave the Tholun empire to pursue other dreams among the stars. The general reaction to this is negative among the Tholun, who see such things as flights of unrealistic fancy and as unhealthily individualistic.
The Tholun manufacturing juggernaut also manufactures a great deal of heavy-duty combat vehicles and hardware, though by most standards it is considered large, bulky, and unwieldy. Nevertheless, such equipment has proven itself in battle, and some more wealthy mercenary outfits bolster their ranks with Tholun-manufactured combat vehicles, which are sturdy, reliable, and relatively inexpensive. The Tholun even make conversion kits for some vehicles to allow any crew members smaller than Vashyr to use them comfortably. Their weapons share a similar philosophy of being bulky but durable and effective, and are not uncommonly used by mercenaries and bodyguards looking for an intimidating (and loud) weapon.
The Tholun broker peace with who they can in order to facilitate trade, though tensions are high between the Tholun and the Ulna, as the Ulna see the Tholun as invasive and wasteful, and have little interest in many of the devices they manufacture, preferring to produce their own instead, limiting trade to general goods and raw materials. The Tholun have also reached out to the Sect, and have open trade with them- Something the Vashyr are not pleased with, but do not take action against as the Tholun also provide the Vashyr with significant rare materials they have trouble acquiring in the needed amounts on their own.
The Tholun have 3 core worlds and dozens of "colonies", though calling them colonies is a stretch. They are more akin to mining and prospecting outposts than real colonies, with their explicit purpose being to determine if a world has a large amount of natural resources, and if so, to proceed to expand mining operations. The vast majority of their population (More than 95%) lives in the core worlds, which serve as manufacturing centers. Due to their trade ties, they are important to every council race except the Ulna, meaning they wield a great deal of political power.
Tholun are short, tough, and straightforward, and almost all are afflicted with a greedy streak. This usually manifests as greed for recognition, driving them to achieve, but often it also comes in your regular flavor too. They start with natural damage reduction and can select any item in the Tholun Manufactorum to purchase.

Sect Collective
Sect are probably the most bizarre of all council races. They stand roughly 5 feet tall, and are distinctly insectoid in appearance. They have slender bodies vaguely reminiscent of Terran mantids, with large, triangular heads with round compound eyes. Their complex mouthparts can imitate speech by making a hissing sound and forming words that way, but they communicate through electrical signals passed through their slender antennae when they can. They have also developed devices that can monitor these signals and speak for them, and most use such devices to communicate with other races. They also have the interesting ability to rapidly change color and pattern; While this is hardly perfect, it helps them hide or stand out, whichever they prefer. Their arms end in three-fingered hands, and from their wrist extends a blade-like stabbing spike. The size of this spike is often a point of pride, though this has lessened with the prominence of cosmetic surgery. Their exoskeleton is thick but elastic, allowing it to grow and heal like other species. They are also very quick and extremely agile, and are expert climbers by nature. They are also exclusively carnivorous.
Sect development has made mass-production a must, and Sect produce some of the cheapest and most widely available products in the galaxy. They also manufacture low-grade and very inexpensive weapons, and due to the lack of Sect record keeping and their overall liberality with selling such weapons, they tend to find their way into the hands of assassins, crooks, and other types that don't want their weapon being traced or formally recorded. The sect are also pioneers in the study of brainwaves and communication, as they are always looking for ways to make coordinating their many colonies easier.
The Sect are ruled by a pseudo-hivemind on their home planet int he form of a Monarch and his Harem. The Monarch is a male, who can win his place in many ways, and his Harem are females he specifically breeds with that are second in command only to him. His job is to direct the collective towards his goals, and the behavior of the collective is usually shaped by his ideals. While Sect are generally individuals, they are compelled to obey these mandates, and as a result Sect civilization has varied wildly, from peaceful and kind, using their numbers to assist other races or just live quietly, to violent and warlike, attempting invasions and the like. The current ruler is semi-warlike, who uses the claim of "colonization" to subtly invade worlds by simply planting a breeding colony and then pushing out the slower-breeding occupants with sheer numbers. Though this has not been accomplished yet, it has started two wars so far, and many sect have noticed and whispers abound that someone will eventually stand up to the current monarch and usurp his rule somehow to end this.
Sect are alien and standoffish, but curious and lighthearted once you get past their suspicion. Life is cheap for the Sect, so they tend not to worry about a great many things. Their appearance and mannerisms are offputting to many species that haven't worked with them regularly, making them the target of mild pockets of racism, but they aren't generally concerned about it. They do, however, have a skewed sense of ownership. It takes Sect dealing with other races time to understand it, and they never truly grasp it. They also do not understand sentimentality, which makes it harder for them. They have trouble distinguishing junk from things valuable for sentimental reasons, and may handle or even take objects they think are not owned. Many Sect, to avoid this, simply do not pick up anything that they are not directly given possession of. Most Sect just want to make their way in the world, and like most sentient organisms, have no desire to die or to throw themselves into pointless wars.
Sect military tactics rely on sudden and overwhelming force. Their tactic is generally to lie in wait, and then come crashing down on the enemy like a million hammer blows. Once battle is engaged, they use confusion and swarm tactics to disorient and divert the enemy military, doing their best to surround them. Sect make extensive use of airborne attack ships to accomplish this, which are usually little more than an engine with a seat and control panel armed with guns. They skim over the battlefield at high speeds, disorienting and distracting targets as they strafe in large numbers and seemingly chaotic and unpredictable patterns, forcing opponents out of cover and into the waiting sights of their massed infantry. Sect equipment is relatively fragile, but tends to be nimble and light. Adventurous Sect manufacturers have begun experimenting with making lightweight, inexpensive body armor for other races as well, with great success.
The sect are in two wars at the moment: One with the Vashyr, which they are only surviving through maneuverability and superior numbers, and the other with the Ulna, which is more of a standoffish cold war. Sect in general are not fond of the war, and most sect are upset that their Monarch has started two large wars in his reign. They get along as well as they can with other races, and their relations are probably strongest with the Tholun, as their many colonies need more construction equipment than they can produce, and they trade their mass-produced goods for it.
The Sect have five core worlds and nineteen colonies. The Sect are virtually everywhere. If there is a multicultural settlement, there are Sect there. Unfortunately, their disregard for ownership and their penchant for surprise warfare mean that they also comprise a significant portion of pirates, smugglers, black market dealers, and thieves. This has done nothing to paint the Sect in a more positive light, but they struggle to survive as best they can.
Sect are agile, nimble, stealthy, and quick. Natural predators, they instinctively know how to fight, and are suspicious of almost everyone, but once you gain a Sect's trust they are generally friendly and likeable. They can communicate silently with other Sect, and are excellent climbers and masters of stealth and ambush.

Of these five core races, the one I am least satisfied with is the Ulna. I like their concept but they are really missing the "oomph" that sets them apart from the other races and makes them memorable and distinct, and honestly, the peaceful natural technology thing feels reeeally tropey and played out. If I could find some way to make that distinct, I would do it.

Now for the plot.

Basically the players will be assorted colonists and mercenaries flocking to a new "multiracial colony" set up on a dustbowl world. The colony is co-opted by the Tholun and the Terran. The Tholun have mining interests here, but with the Vashyr tied up in a war with the Sect, their pirate deterrent is preoccupied. To make matters worse, the planet is dangerously close to the conflict itself, with the Vashyr fleet currently bombarding a nearby Sect planet into submission, and the Vashyr homeworld of Avasha not too far off either. It was thought the proximity to Avasha would deter pirates, but that was before the war began. As a result, the Tholun asked the Terrans to pick up some security detail, with compensation promised once mining was in full swing.

Ideally, the party will do some odd jobs regarding security and forward sites for Terran headhunter agencies looking for mercs willing to hurl their meat-sacks at hostile alien fauna for a quick buck. After that, they might get a few bigger contracts. At some point they will have enough money to afford their own starship and then they can really help the Tholun and the Terrans with important things.

All the while they get to see this struggling backwater colony start developing into something real, something relevant, and they are helping it along with their actions.

The real plot begins when they are sent to investigate some missing persons. Upon arriving where they went missing, they find no bodies, no anything- But there is a deep, dark, scary hole. Their job will be to check it out. If they don't grow nuts, or manage to lose them after entering, I might trap them inside somehow because this is important dammit. Inside they find the ruins of an ancient civilization. Its all very dark and foreboding, with very oppressive and creepy architecture, but its clear everything is abandoned.

Of course, it isn't actually abandoned, I mean, come on. Really?

The occupants are ancient, dilapidated robots that implacably attack without mercy or any hint of consciousness. They are more akin to undead, really. The objective at that point is to figure out how to get out of the place alive. Along the way, I'll give them the option of destroying the place by collapsing the earthen ceiling, which they will, of course, elect to do because this place really sucks and they don't want these getting out, whatever they are.

And that is when they are contacted by Valykrin Khol. Khol is a high-ranking Valykrin (The soldiers of the Vashyr) and he requests the characters see him immediately. He interrogates them about what they found, and then lets them go.

After a bit of time, Khol requests their presence again, and tells them he will hire them to do a few possibly dangerous things that pay well. The first on the list is to investigate a moonlet within the sector. He wants parts of the ancient technology the players found underground- Of course, with all of that buried, there is no easy way to get to the bits on the planet. Or, if they elect not to, he asks them to go back. Specifically, what they are looking for is any sort of writing. Even a picture or a rubbing will suffice, as long as it is legible.

Its not immediately clear what Khol is after because he's playing it safe; He doesn't know if he can trust the characters yet. He'll do this again afterwards, asking them to visit a derelict archaeological space hulk to retrieve something similar. After the players have earned his confidence, he confides something with them.

The monolith that has the Doctrine on it has a list of prophecies, all of which have come true except the last one. The last one states "The followers of the Doctrine will inherit the destiny of all children of the stars". He states that Valykrinadar Atta has determined that this means that the Vashyr will come to rule the galaxy, but he finds it odd how vaguely worded the prophecy is, and that she may be misinformed- Usually, the Doctrine is much more clear and concise. He is sure it will come to pass, but has no idea what it means. He is very conflicted; He believes wholeheartedly in the Doctrine, and believes in Atta's interpretation, but at the same time, something about it seems off. While he trusts Atta, he wants to make sure her reading is correct, and has been sending the players in search of these artifacts to hopefully expand the vocabulary written on the Code Stone to form a more accurate cipher for translation. He can't send other Valykrin to look, in the event suspicion that he is Adyta gets around- A thing which is patently false, as he believes in the Doctrine with all his soul. He tells the players if he can find any more places they should look, he will let them know, and that if they stumble across anything, to bring it to him.

My hope is that the players will automatically assume cosmic horror. I mean, big black stone with ancient writing and unknown origins with a highly accurate prophecy countdown? The last prophecy is obviously Cthulhu popping out of it and eating everyone's souls. That way I can turn it around on them because that is not what is going on at all.

In the meantime, the Terran and the Tholun have more jobs for them. The settlement is growing quickly, as it is now being populated by other races as well, including Sect refugees, Vashyr security looking to make sure they don't cause any trouble, and Ulna trading groups looking to establish trading lines with the Terran vendors and manufacturers there.

After some more time, Khol contacts them again. He's nervous, and requests to see them in person. Whent he players arrive, he informs them that he has made a startling discovery. The prophecies on the Code Stone occur at regular intervals and all describe some event that happens on Avasha. If the pattern holds, the final prophecy is going to happen very soon. He sends the players out to one final location he is sure will have what he needs.

Yep, defo Cthulhu.

The players will receive the writing, and give it to Khol. He will thank them and send them on their way.

Later on, he will contact them again- This time, he is even more nervous. It turns out that the pieces of text they gathered were only a partial match to the text on the Code Stone- They are similar, but different on a detail level, enough to suggest there was another race besides that which made the Code Stone that splintered off and became their own civilization. He can't use it to make a cipher for the Code Stone, but he can use to to make a cipher to translate this new language. He tells them he will keep them informed, but thought they should know their work was not for nothing.

The players start wondering. Is the new race the Cthulhu cult?

At this point I plan to interject a plot hook to cause the PCs to become involved in a political coup for the Sect. I haven't worked the details for this one out yet, but I wanted a breather from the dungeon delving and the pirate and raider fighting to have them do something more subtle and intriguing.

At any rate, Khol finishes the Cipher and calls the players with, you guessed it, more bad news. He tells the player that from what he can piece together, the new race is actually a race of sentient machines created by the race that created the Code Stone, and they were at war with each other. Time is ticking down, and he needs more info, anything. He tells the players that the one thing that happened before the prophecies began coming true was a meteorite impact on the surface of the planet. It had been orbiting their planet for a very long time, but the orbit finally decayed and it crashed into Avasha. It is considered a holy site and the meteorite itself was never really investigated thoroughly, but he was out of options- The players have to find some way to get a good look at the meteorite and find out what it was.

Oh my, what kind of cosmic terror is this? What sort of interdimensional Cthulhu-summoning beacon is this meteorite!?

Avasha is normally totally off-limits to outsiders. The entire planet is considered holy and only by the decree of a high-ranking Valykrin or the Valykrinadar herself are you going to get within five parsecs of it without being atomized. Fortunately, Khol can give you such authorization, on the grounds that you are pilgrims wishing to visit a holy site, determining if you wish to follow the ways of the Doctrine, and your loyalty has proven you to be useful to the Vashyr.

With this I get to show off a more developed world, specifically Avasha, with its towering, gleaming black spires, and Vashyr culture which the players have had no exposure to so far. The players visit the meteorite, and discover it is made of a similar material to the Code Stone. Moreover, despite the melting and marring left by re-entry, there is a large portion of visible and legible words on one surface (Though the rest looks like jagged, melted and shattered wreckage). They quickly snap a a picture and its back to Khol with the paydirt.

Khol is ecstatic, and uses the new information to start fleshing out a new cipher.

Cue downtime where the players do stuff for the now-bustling colony world and themselves.

The next time Khol contacts them, he does so over a secure channel simply telling them to meet him at a secure location. The players arrive, and the Khol is visibly shaken.

The big reveal! Tell us Valykrin Khol, what dimensional horrors await!?

Khol goes into detail about the original cipher being woefully incomplete. Using the new data, he had enough information to put together a much more comprehensive cipher, and was floored.

The meteorite seems to have been a detonator. Written on it are instructions for how to arm a massive bomb meant to destroy the entire sector.

The Code Stone's text is slightly mistranslated as well- In fact, it reads more like safety and conduct protocols for a military installation than a rigorous lifestyle mandate, and the prophecies...

...Are warnings for arming stages for a colossal bomb at the center of the planet.

[mind blowing intensifies]

Yep. The Vashyr are worshipping ancient safety and conduct bulletins and have been living on a bomb.

The prophecies are just ticking down its arming stages until it explodes.

Khol isn't sure why the bomb is arming so slowly- He speculates that the detonator' arming timer was damaged by the impact and is sending its signals much more slowly than it is supposed to- but he isn't about to question it. They have to disarm it somehow before it annihilates the sector completely and billions upon billions of lives are lost.

At this point, Valykrin show up to arrest him and the party for attempting to undermine the Doctrine. Khol (And any Vashyr players) will be tried for heresy; The non-Vashyr players will be tried for terrorism. Khol tries his best to reason with the others, but he is subdued forcefully, as are the players.

They are transported back to Avasha, and imprisoned there. The Valykrinadar herself is there to greet them, and she is PISSED. She immediately declares Khol Adyta, as well as any non-Adyta Vashyr in the party, and has all of them carted to prison to await their trial. Khol tries to reason with her, telling her he has proof, but this only makes her madder. The players may interject, and this will also make her madder. The players go to one area of the prison, and Khol goes to another. While the players await their hearing in their cells, suddenly the force fields drop. The guards are unconscious. A pair of camouflaged Sect nod from their perch above the doorway, and tell the players the new Monarch sends his regards before blending back in with the shadows.

The players will probably try to rescue Khol, who they will find badly beaten and in no shape to travel. It turns out it was his own doing; He attempted an escape on his own, and attacked the guards. He tells the players they need to get to a boring device (The kind that bores holes, not players) and get to the bomb as quickly as they can. A large platinum mine exists deep into Avasha's crust, which should speed their travel considerably. They have to get there and figure out how to disarm the bomb before its too late.

They do it, finding their gear in a storage locker and getting in some fights along the way if they play a little too non-stealthy. The borer is a large flat vehicle with a round, half-sphere head covered in a series of antimatter beams that simply delete matter they come into contact with. The whole time periodic and rhythmic tremors can be felt, slowly increasing in intensity. They drill down, and the drill gets attacked by a giant digging worm! They have to fight this thing off as the borer makes its way through the mine. It will regurgitate some babies onto the platform, they will shoot it, fun times to be had for everyone. Functionally, a final combat boss.

They finally break through into a hollow space- Below them, the massive bomb slowly churns, rings and dark metallic plates shifting to new positions periodically, generating the tremors. Red lights on the surface of it illuminate the hollow interior of the planet, and the entire thing is zero G but with atmosphere. Very surreal. Also very hot, if I think the players have environment gear that can take it, otherwise space magic its room temperature etc. Through the moving parts, they can catch a glimpse of something inside it- Something extremely bright, and getting brighter. Their goal will be to maneuver to the interior of the bomb. The device's superstructure will have disk-like valves the players can turn, which will cause the bomb to visibly shudder, but slow down, as they begin cutting off the bomb's fuel. When they reach the core, they will see a glass sphere approximately the size of a car with an intensely bright singularity at its center. On either end is a metal disk, and inches away from those metal disks are two pointed metal extending arms. Its not explicitly stated, but I'll make it obvious that if the arms breach that thing that's when the planet goes supernova. The players have a few options; They can force the sphere out of position, at which point as soon as it is out of the way the arms will clamp down on nothing, grazing the ball and sending it careening into a wall... [dramatic pause] harmlessly, or they can somehow disable the arms so they can't clamp down, likely by just destroying them, or by some crafty way I haven't thought of yet. Either way, the bomb doesn't explode and the sector is saved, and I'll make sure the players know it was at the very last second.

As they are leaving the now-defunct device, Valykrinadar Atta and her elite forces arrive, following their trail, and she is dumbfounded. Utterly speechless, she floats to the bomb's surface, runs her hands across it, and gazes at it in wonder and horror. She steals a glance back at the players, and after a momentary pause, pulls out a knife. She lops her own trophy braid off, discards it, and without a word, she leaves, taking her retinue with her.

The players make their way back to the surface using the bore, and find Khol and Atta waiting for them. Atta is still dumbstruck, and says nothing to the players. Instead, she declares that she resigns as Valykrinadar and leaves. Khol thanks the players for their assistance and for saving the sector, but with no Valykrinadar and no selected successor- Hell, with no Doctrine- they must now gain their bearings. He'll contact them when he needs them to return, but for now, he'll spread word of their deeds. Their ship is in lockup, and they can go whenever they like.

The players return to the now well-established settlement to rounds of applause and adulation, and after the carousing and celebrations are done, they are contacted one more time by Khol. They return, summoned to the Grand Cathedral where the Code Stone itself is housed, to find him wearing the mantle of Valykrinadar. He tells them he intends to continue following the old Doctrine, as the Vashyr knew it- After all, it had gotten them THIS far. And that the final prophecy, that the Vashyr would inherit the destiny of the children of the stars, would be fulfilled- The Vashyr would be protectors, responsible for helping the other races as they found their destinies. The Vashyr are few in number, and weary from war, but they will do what they can. Then he grows somber. He states that beyond these ideals, he is not fit to be Valykrinadar. Even though he was right, he questioned the Doctrine, something unacceptable. He names Atta, who would have died for the Doctrine, as his successor and steps down.

He thanks the players, and hopes that they bring as much fortune on their travels through the stars as they had here, and that they will always be friends to the Vashyr. THE END.

What do you guys think eh?

2015-11-28, 09:48 PM
There's a forum for this sort of thing. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?57-World-Building) You might get more responses there.

Iron Angel
2015-11-29, 02:23 AM
Reposted there, thanks for the advice!