View Full Version : Fun Set Pieces for a Space Opera Game

Legato Endless
2018-04-09, 06:08 PM
Going to be taking my turn as the DM for a running Space Opera Game (Star Trek for those who care). Hoping to mine the Playground for brainstorming any cool ideas for stellar phenomena, situations plausible or more fanciful, and any other cool spectacles for the characters to observe/interact with you'd throw into a game. As the game has been going for awhile, some of the more stock ones like near a black hole, or ships battling have already been taken. No real guidelines beyond something enjoyable, harder more scientific state of the universe as currently understood versus outright fantastical are both fine.

2018-04-09, 06:30 PM
Star Trek get's pretty crazy sometimes so anything is within scope from hard science like an investigation of Dark Matter gravitational influences on the termination shock wave of a detonating neutrons stars polar jets to flat out space fantasy like a 300 mile long Parthenon floating in space which turns out to be Dionysus's summer party shack.

2018-04-09, 09:05 PM
I am sure you have crossed off most of this, but feel free to give a supernatural or magical aspect to the following(unless your game/system has no magic or the like, then use sparingly)
-Hive minds
-Super advanced race, possibly to the point of being technology(transhumanist)
-Super advanced race, but mostly powered by magical or supernatural powers. The Eldar from 40k have highly advanced technology, but are more magical and supernatural in nature.
-High/low gravity, vacuum of space, supernatural cold of space, radiation. Bonus for things that survive or thrive in such conditions.
-Civilizations based on non "M" planets
-Nomadic spacefaring lifeforms, like space whales
-Hardlight technology
-All consuming/assimilating race/thing
-Things once thought deities or planes of existence which are just aliens and new planets
-Space viruses/bacteria, possibly infecting the ship.
-Ancient lost technology race that becomes awakened, and fragments/artifacts of said race's tech are used by spacefarers in this age.
-Nebulas/supernovas, birth and death of stars and planets.

2018-04-10, 02:24 PM
How about a mining colony on a planet in orbit a star that will go supernova in 20 years? The company in charge is in financial difficulties. Somebody has noticed that the evacuation schedule is overly optimistic, and rumors run that the company will prioritize production, and then transporting out capital equipment, over ensuring that all of the colonists get out safely. (But 20 years is a long time, isn't it??)

A generation ship manned by aliens, that has degenerated into anarchy.

A stellar system composed of antimatter.

2018-04-10, 08:54 PM
A massive space station. The whole thing is a living creature. Those that live on it are from a race that uses genetic manipulation almost exclusively.

Their ships are alive. Their guns are alive. Their computers are alive. Their looms are alive. Their watches are alive.

It's fun to watch the players react when, due to previous damage, an alien is performing surgery on the wall. Or when their gun flinches with spasmodic nerve movements. Or when their dog sits down and infolds into a living computer.

Doubly so if it at first seems like they aren't alive, but just all look like they could be.

2018-04-10, 09:16 PM
Pick out a ship from an entirely different universe (Star Wars, the Honorverse, the Schlockiverse, whatever you fancy) of roughly equivalent power (you'll have to eyeball this, of course, and you can go for stronger or weaker depending on how you intend to play it) to the PC ship. Drop it into system through a subspace anomaly of some sort. Now you have the players interacting with a totally alien and very confused counterpart that needs to find a way back home.

2018-04-11, 11:56 AM
Cat probe that just wants to talk to now extinct cats via meows that somehow pierce the interstellar medium and make your dogman crew go nuts and pee everywhere.

Kaptin Keen
2018-04-11, 12:27 PM
For a Dark Heresy game long ago I dreamt up a space cathedral carved from a water-ice asteroid. I liked the idea of it being nearly totally transparent, placing the poor faithful staring always out into the utter void - and since it was 40k, I could claim that the sun, breaking in the facets of the ice, would often resemble the face of the God-Emperor.

Whether such a thing would be possible at all is another matter. I have no idea =)

1337 b4k4
2018-04-11, 09:02 PM
If you're unaware of it yet, you should download and take a gander at Eclipse Phase (https://robboyle.wordpress.com/eclipse-phase-pdfs/). The rules are hit and miss but the setting is fantastic, taking place in the trans-human future of our solar system. Some sample locations you could steal:

The only known site of TITAN activity on Mercury during the Fall, Caloris 18 was a sparsely crewed solar power relay station belonging to Lukos, a now-defunct Russian corporation. Vanya Ilyanovich, the AGI administering the facility, rounded up all of the station’s transhuman inhabitants and fused their morphs into a gigantic, centipede-like abomination before destroying itself in a failed attempt to merge consciousnesses with all of the minds in its creation. Since then, Caloris 18 has been under strict quarantine.

Shackle (population 6 million), built in and around the south polar Shackleton crater, is centered on one of two major water extraction operations on Luna. New Varanasi, the city of temples, is the most impres- sive section of the city. Shackle was the other major site of old Indian influence on Luna, and with the destruction of New Mumbai holds special importance to descendants of the Indian diaspora. New Varanasi is a monumental artificial cavern complex with an intricate canal system fed by melted ice from the polar caps above. As a source of lifegiving water, it now holds the same importance to the hindu faith once ascribed to the River Ganges on old Earth. Survivors of other Indian religions, such as the jains and sikhs, have also made their temples here. This makes Shackle a major pilgrimage site; tourism is the major indus- try after water extraction. A small herd of Indian elephants is a major attraction, and the elephant god Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles, is extremely popular on Luna, even with non-hindus.

The Zone: Officially labeled the TITAN Quarantine Zone, the TQZ is a large area stretching from the smooth plains of Amazonis Planitia (between the Tharsis and Elysium volcanic areas) and southeast to Arsia Mons (just west of Noctis). This zone is known to be crawling with leftover TITAN machinery: warbots, nanoswarms, and other dangerous things. Several devastated habitats lie in this region, includ- ing the former Islamic stronghold of Qurain. Few dare venture here, though some rumors suggest that Barsoomian smugglers make use of the Arsia Mons caves and even scavenge for TITAN tech, despite the risks. Planetary Consortium drones keep a vigilant eye on the Zone’s borders, though for unknown reasons the TITAN relics rarely stray beyond its bounds.

This massive beehive habitat is a major crossroads and anarcho-capitalist/mutualist marketplace. Extropia is a neutral free city whose infrastructure and social fabric is maintained by a loose associa- tion of anarcho-syndicalist affinity groups. Extropia’s neutrality hinges on strategic alliances between key local figures, their networks, and an unusual array of outside interests that include the Lunar banks, technolibertarian factions, and outer system colonies dependent upon raw materials exported from the belt. The hypercorps use Extropia as a tax shelter and a haven from which to do illicit business. There are no laws or government as such; visitors are advised to register with an insurance and security provider. Named after one of the first transhumanist move- ments, Extropia is considered a utopia for trans- humans looking for body modifications. AGIs and forking are accepted and allowed here. The transhu- man population is nearly ten million.

The Gateway settlement, on Saturn’s outer shepherd moon Pandora, holds the first publicly known worm- hole gate. The Gatekeeper Corporation keeps the gate open as a means of exploration and scientific investigation for all factions and powers. Gatekeeper was originally a Titanian microcorp but is now inde- pendent. The Commonwealth of Titan still holds a major stake in it, though not a controlling interest. Granting autonomy to Gatekeeper Corporation was a diplomatic maneuver made in response to Planetary Consortium claims that the Titanians sought hege- mony in the outer system. So far, Titan’s neighbors are buying it, even if the Planetary Consortium doesn’t.

The full name of this unique habitat is Turn Yourself Into a Giant Mass of Space Meat for Art!, and as the name implies, 90% of the habitat’s structure consists of fast-cultured vat bacon, battened on the abun- dant resources of the ring system. MeatHab started
out as someone’s art morph, but then, against all expectations, squatters moved in. MeatHab now has a population of 500. Similar to a Hamilton cylinder, the kilometer-long habitat harvests and processes ring material to grow itself. The outer surface is frozen flesh ten meters thick whose surface resembles a cross between a tree trunk and flank steak. Past the axial space dock is a warren of veinous, skin-covered cor- ridors lit by bioluminescent panels and maintained by small, reptilian symbiotes that eat away dead skin and may have other immune functions as well. Gravity inside is 0.5 g.
The nameless biodesigner who created the place— and who may or may not still inhabit the gigantic morph—was a genius. Although the habitat is not by any stretch of the imagination a pleasant locale, it appears healthy. Its full workings are not understood, and the inhabitants range from extreme flesh freaks who are fans of the artist to serious biodesigners studying the place to learn more about its construction.

2018-04-12, 04:50 AM
The PC's ship comes across an old generation ship hurtling through space at about 0.2c. They passed their destination long ago, due to being unable to slow down (they used up all their remass), and unfortunately the ship is heading towards [important location]! Their goal is to come up with a plan that'll save both the inhabitants of the the ship and [important location] with the limited supplies and space on their ship.

2018-04-12, 05:22 AM
These are less set pieces and more adventure hooks, but the examples in the opening post suggest that these better fit what's being looked for than set pieces qua set pieces.

The PCs come to a massive mining station working with volatile materials, just as they are starting to get out of hand. They might be able to help, but doing so would risk their entire crew, particularly if they try to do more than evacuate.
The PCs find that a recent and largely beneficial proto-alliance is based on lies and coverups of heinous actions. Those on both sides have a right to know about this, but revealing it threatens the proto-alliance.
The PCs are contacted by a poor nation on a planet undergoing active terraforming to counteract industrial damage. The poor nation wants the PCs to intercede, as the active terraforming techniques are cheap and dirty, and have side effects particularly bad for the poor nation.
An antimatter life form is discovered, capable of synthesizing antimatter out of matter with the energy of matter antimatter reactions. They're growing out of control in a sector of space.
A spatial anomaly is causing the personalities of the crew to temporally fragment, and they end up sharing head space with a growing roster of past and future selves.

Legato Endless
2018-04-13, 05:35 PM
Much appreciated everyone. I've got some neat ideas for adding color to the sessions from all this.

If you're unaware of it yet, you should download and take a gander at Eclipse Phase (https://robboyle.wordpress.com/eclipse-phase-pdfs/). The rules are hit and miss but the setting is fantastic, taking place in the trans-human future of our solar system. Some sample locations you could steal:

I was not. That's fantastic.