Then Isabel, seeing before all others that the Scourge would indeed be the end of Humanity, did gather up the faithful and lead them across the Wastelands and through many hardships and past many tempting oases, until they came to their new home. There, Isabel said they would be safe, and told the people to persevere, and was gone.
On the nasty, unpleasant world of Caliban, that is the story at the core of the ‘origins’ tales in most of the religions. There was a great and powerful kingdom/empire/shogunate, and then the Scourge came (why and how they came varies wildly), and the great prophet Isabel led the Chosen on a long trip and left them to fend for themselves in a rough and dangerous place that was, nonetheless, safe from the Scourge. The Chosen survived, and everyone else died. Noah’s Ark, but with a LOT less water.
Time passes. Many many many generations of people live and die (often violently) on Caliban, which is a harsh world requiring harsh measures and harsher rules. The world is sparsely but widely settled, and its people are highly territorial, warring with all other territories both for survival and for the supposed evils “they” have committed since time immemorial. Mankind slowly becomes more civilized (or at least more technologically advanced) and, like Earth, people find a comfortable place in their lives for their religion — maybe making it a central part of their lives… maybe not thinking about it at all.
About five generations ago, someone found a long lost ruins down near the almost-uninhabitable equator. In the ruins are some very very odd documents and… artifacts that contain references to the prophet Isabel.
And a lot of math that people are only barely able to figure out — math and information that seems to be showing the exact location of the great ship that Isabel brought her people to safety in… and that location is smack dab in The Reef.
The Reef… which is an asteroid belt on the outer edge of the solar system of which Caliban is a part.
Space-faring technology at that point in time amounted to a few unmanned rockets being fired into the outer atmosphere. (When fighting your neighbors and survival are your two main motivators for several millenna, a budding space program is not a big priority.)
People were, needless to say, a bit agitated.
Temporary treaties were signed. Much work is done in a surprisingly short period of time. Several territories send ships to the coordinates in the Reef.
They find Isabel’s ship.
The five generations since then have seen a lot of change.
So, the basic legend seems to be true. There was a big … empire? Federation? Something. A big human-founded republic that spanned thousands of worlds. Somewhere at the height of that, the Scourge came… or were created… or manifested… something. Isabel saw the writing on the wall, got together an enormous generation ship with all the best tech (much of which Caliban techs are still trying to reverse-engineer), and set out to get clear of the impending destruction of the human race.
She passed a lot of really nice, habitable planets and, for reasons unknown, picked arid, barely habitable Caliban to settle on. Humanity had to work so hard to survive in those first years that they lost — or gave up — pretty much any knowledge that didn’t focus directly on making it to the next sunrise. Society fell apart, scattered, and slowly… very very slowly… rebuilt, and discovered where it had come from; the disaster it had avoided. There is a resurgence of faith, but also a massive drive to analyze all the old texts in light of this new information.
What does mankind do in a situation like that?
They head right back out to the stars, of course.
In the current time, there are many colonies spreading out from Caliban, funded by the still highly competitive, barely cordial Territories of the home world. Beyond the colonies are the Remnants — hundreds, maybe thousands of worlds that were once part of the Solor Republic that was humanity at its finest. Left behind are ruins, lost technology, mysteries, and hundreds of Alien clans that still live on those worlds and who were, inexplicably, untouched by the Scourge that destroyed humanity. Some are neutral toward the last survivors of mankind; some worship them like returning gods; most of them shoot on sight (using technology far better than Caliban’s), screaming in a rage. It has been well over two thousand years since they’ve seen a human, and still they remember the pain of when it all came crumbling down.
You play a ship’s captain, sailing the void between worlds in search of… something. (What that is is different for everyone, isn’t it?) You might be a captain in the Concordance Navy. You might be a smuggler, or entrepreneur, or merchant, or archaeologist, or scavenger, or one of the idle rich, or something else: no matter what, you’re the Captain, and when things get rough, it’s just you and your crew.
Things are about to get rough.
The Scourge is coming again.
That’s great, Doyce, but what do you do?
Well, there are a couple stages to getting started with the game.
1. Create your Captain
This is pretty straightforward character creation. First, you’re a captain of a starship. That’s non-negotiable. Second, you might be a little sleazy or mercenary, but when push comes to shove, you’ll step up and try to save the world. You might be an anti-hero, but you’re a HERO… or at least you’ll try to be. Figure that out. Figure out what makes them tick.
Of the seven main archetypes (read: overlapping skill packages), pick three that you’re reasonably competent at. These include Astronaut, Diplomat, Explorer, Professor, Scoundrel, Tinker, Warrior, and can be combined in any way you see fit. After that, you pick some Edges for yourself (Passions, Talents, and Gear) and your ship to show what’s really notable about them in that way.
Once you have that, figure out what change to your situation jolted the captain out of their normal humdrum pattern. Maybe a distress call from a family member or friend. Maybe a weird artifact in a ruin on a Remnant world… maybe someone contacts you with secret intelligence and needs your help… and is willing to pay for it.
Somewhere in there — or in your background — should be some hint that the Scourge is coming, and what they are. Tell the GM what that “Scourge Hint” is.
That’s your captain. What next?
2. Create Crewmembers
While you were coming up with your own captain, everyone else playing (and really, there shouldn’t be more than four players, absolute maximum) are coming up with THEIR captains. All these captains are going to be having their own adventures in the big push to the big showdown with the Scourge, so what are you going to be doing while everyone else gets their turn?
You’re playing their crew, that’s what — playing their foil and making them awesome by turns.
After everyone sort of introduces their captains, you go around and everyone makes up crew for each captain. You ‘stats’ are:
– Your name.
– What you do on the ship.
– What your relationship is to the Captain. (Professional? Rival? Unrequited Love? Active Romance? Romantic Tension? Family?)
Your involvement in the captain’s scenes, as well as the ebb and flow of Trust and/or Doubt you have in the captain is going to heavily influence their success.
3. Make up a world
This is pretty simple. Everyone, including the GM, makes up a world out there in the deep of space. Maybe a colony. Maybe a remnant alien world. Maybe a space station… some sort of big ‘place’ that an adventure could happen on… you determine population, environment, and even any weird rumors about the place.
4. Make up a faction
Pretty much the same thing again, but this time in regards to the major players in the Galaxy. Alien clans. Crime syndicates. Religious cabals. It’s all up to you.
Are you getting from this that each ‘run’ of Galactic is going to have a setting, tone, and flavor very specific to that game and that group of players? You should, because that is very much the case.
5. Make up a connection
This is someone the Captain knows who will (perhaps grudgingly) help them out sometimes. Nothing more need be known about them but their name and what they ‘do’.
6. Define your first Quest
What’s this? The GM doesn’t come up with everything for every character? Does it SEEM like that would be likely in a game like this?
For your first quest, you define:
– What you basic objective is. (“Find my sister.”)
– What benefit you might gain that will help you against the Scourge. (“Some kind of weapon.” or “Some kind of knowledge.”)
– A world that will figure prominently in this Quest.
– A “Cliffhanger” scene that you will start you quest in — something that requires a decision be made.
The person on one side of you picks out a Faction that will be involved in the quest. The person on the other side comes up with a ‘personality’ NPC who will be involved.
The GM then takes all that and comes up with “the rest” before you play.
It’s a very structured game, this Galactic. Each Captain has three quests that drive toward the Big Showdown. The fourth quest is the confrontation with the Scourge, wherein you either beat them, or humanity is wiped out.
Hopefully, your captain and (most) of your crew lived long enough to get a shot at saving the world.
And that’s what setup is like. I did most of that this weekend with an unsupportable five players (hoping that I can always get at least three available each weekend between now and mid December).
In the next post, I’m going to talk about the game that the players and I came up with.