[Diaspora] Friday Night Science Fiction

edited November 2009 in Actual Play
The Valiance Corporation started out as the humble Valiance Arms & Mercantile Company with nothing but 3 pre-slipstream technology old-fashioned rocket ships delivering goods and services to the space colonies all over the Vestal system.

How far we've grown together. Now our slipstream-capable armada delivers plague curatives as far away as the inhospitable frontier moons of Binghamton to ball bearings and microchips to the garden worlds of Ithaca. The post-war economy has allowed us to save countless clones from a life of slavery and we have the honor of depositing these sentient beings wherever a slipknot might take them so that they might start life anew.

Welcome to the Valiance family. We hope this guide might help you as you venture forth into the star cluster to enforce corporate policy and make the future more valiant.


  • edited November 2009
    Getting together with a group of fellas who have never gamed all together before. We got along well last night and made up our star cluster. I would've liked to have seen more +4 and -4 stats on the rolls for each system (our highest and lowest were +2 and -2) but it remains an exciting place to get our game on. We fleshed out the aspects for each system, noticed where the resources and garden worlds had ended up, which systems were slipknot gate hubs and the political situation just kind of presented itself to us.

    We bounced around campaign concepts...diplomats, journalists, archaeologists...and ended up as employees for the science fiction inter-stellar equivalent of the East India Trading Company.

    The characters are absolutely sweet. I really liked what we came up with.

    And that there is the magic of gaming. We got together, introduced ourselves, rolled some dice, drew some diagrams and a few hours later we had a setting.

    Rock on.

    It was important that we had a game where players could not show up week to week and we could keep on keepin' on.

    I will likely write up each game as a company memo with out of game notes and player posts to talk about how the system and mechanics shook out for us. I will post up the contents of the setting bible google doc once it is more fleshed out.
  • OK, do you live in the Southern Tier? B/c I'm recognizing all of the Broome County references here (lived in Endwell from age 2 to age 9).
  • I am really jazzed about how hopeful your setting is. Technology can ascend as well as descend! Humans can aspire and care. So cool. Thanks!
  • Posted By: Maltese ChangelingOK, do you live in the Southern Tier? B/c I'm recognizing all of the Broome County references here (lived in Endwell from age 2 to age 9).
    Yeah, we live in Ithaca, N.Y. and named just about everything after local towns.

    At first it was a bit too much of a joke but after a while, the places just took on a life all their own and we were off to the races.
  • Posted By: HalfjackI am really jazzed about howhopefulyour setting is. Technology can ascend as well as descend! Humans can aspire and care. So cool. Thanks!
    Where are you seeing all this hope, man?

    They work for a science fiction equivalent of the East India Trading Company, a big fairly heartless Alien/Aliens-inspired corporation.

    It isn't a grim, "In the dark future, there is only war," but I dunno. Maybe you've seen more grim Diaspora clusters than I have.
  • Hmmm... Halfjack, where did you get hopeful?

    I don't see the setting as a lack of hope... but hopeful? It really looks like a couple of systems are tapped out. Holy War might be around the corner again and we are kinda working for some pretty grey, if not downright black, company.

    I gotta say, our group was cool with pulling in bits of analogy. Like the timing is after WWI, Vestal is kinda the british empire fading... Candor was called "the really, tough, pissed off Swiss" at one point. As a lover of history, it made it much easier for me to get a handle on stuff.
  • Posted By: Maltese ChangelingOK, do you live in the Southern Tier? B/c I'm recognizing all of the Broome County references here (lived in Endwell from age 2 to age 9).
    I have to ask, about when was this? I lived in Endwell until I was 18. :)

    Also, Judd et al.: this sounds very, very cool. But please burn Binghamton to ash for me.
  • Jim: I was in Endwell from 1972 to 1979. Went to Homer Brink Elementary School for K-3 and Endwell Elementary for 4. My dad was Assistant Pastor at Northminster Presbyterian. And I still fondly remember all the mafia-house trick or treating that I did on Frazier Drive.
  • Its interesting, Judd's description - the opening of our "corporate handbook" - is fairly hopeful sounding, a story of growth and outreach. Of course, all corporations like to frame themselves as successes. At the table, while there's definitely areas that have room to grow in a positive way, there's also a lot of devestation, exploitation, and problems in the system. I think more than hope, the keyword is potential. It could all grow in a good, positive way, or the system could descend in to chaos. Or one, and then the other.

    I think one of the things I really liked about it last night is that it feels very real, like this could happen given human nature. Of course, the historical analogies may well be a part of that.

  • edited November 2009
    Well we have a company that prides itself on delivering plague cures and getting people from slavery to freedom. That reads hopeful to me. They may do it for a profit, but look at what they do! Hopeless is a company that prides itself on delivering Oopland's Worst Shuttle Accidents to the millions.
  • Posted By: Maltese ChangelingJim: I was in Endwell from 1972 to 1979. Went to Homer Brink Elementary School for K-3 and Endwell Elementary for 4. My dad was Assistant Pastor at Northminster Presbyterian. And I still fondly remember all the mafia-house trick or treating that I did on Frazier Drive.
    Ah, a bit before my time, then: I wasn't born until '77, so our crossover time in Endwell was somewhat limited. ;)
  • To post something relevant to the thread: my copy of Diaspora arrived on Monday. I'm not 100% pleased about the printing job Lulu did--too many of the pages were stuck together upon arrival; while I was able to separate most of the openings without tearing, things got a little fuzzy at the start of the volume.

    That said, I'm extremely psyched about what's printed on those pages and am looking forward to trying out an actual play soon.
  • Posted By: HalfjackWell we have a company that prides itself on delivering plague cures and getting people from slavery to freedom. That reads hopeful to me. They may do it for a profit, but look at what they do! Hopeless is a company that prides itself on deliveringOopland's Worst Shuttle Accidentsto the millions.
    I'm actually on board with you on this one, Halfjack. I think there is a great potential for hope in this setting. But, I like the fact that JC has a serpent in our garden. I think once we get to see the full write-up for the Cluster we'll be seeing how humanity (even modified humanity) is looking to see a cessation of aggression and an improvement of quality for all the systems (optimistic though that may be).

    I'm reading Iain M Banks right now and he has a great way of combining elements in such a way that there can be an over-arching darkness but a subtle thread of light. I'm hoping this game delivers on that.
  • The only reason JC's character didn't set off alarm bells in my head is because he is so fully fleshed out. He is a jaded company man but he is having doubts. He has these great aspects that conflict with one another in delightful ways. He is on the verge of...something and no one at the table will be quite sure what until play hits the table. That excites me.

    While we're talking about what is exciting, I dig all of the characters. Storn's character has an almost western vibe to him. Anthony's character started as a naive kid, new to the company but he is also a young man trying to do right by his family, a member of a new faith. And Pete made the character I would've made. As a matter of fact, if we switch GM's, I would likely play a clone-sister of Pete's character, someone who got away from a life of slavery on the same ship.
  • "almost western"... hell, I flat out stole.

    I based my character on a large part on James Gardner's Bret Maverick. A professional gambler with a soft side and a desire to see cheaters pay. I modified him a bit to make him an ex-Vestal navy officer with a background in space ship engineering and repair. But his irreverent demeanor with authority got him kicked out.

    I think my Anton really like's Stigg's Captain character and also digs the gig to fly all over the cluster for Valiance Arms. Get a chance to play some good high stakes games on the side. But he doesn't trust Valiance Arms much. However, I'm not going to go out of my way to antagonize either JC or Anthony's company men. Valiance Arms has a right to put eyeballs on their ships. That is reasonable. Hopefully, VA will continue to be reasonable and Anton will be the watchdog.
  • edited November 2009
    This looks wonderful. I love the idea of the East India Company in space.

    I think Brad gets "hopeful" from the upbeat tone of the memo. Personally, that upbeat tone strikes me as jingoistic.

    How did you find the rulebook? I found it rather hard-going, but I think it's probably just me. I'm rather hoping someone will tell me it's all perfectly clear and I should go back and read it again.

  • Graham, I've just been reading the Diaspora SRD online. Here: Disapora SRD

    Judd has the actual book. If the game takes off, I'll probably spring for a copy myself.

    However, I find the SRD pretty clear. Granted I've played both Spirit of the Century and Starblazers, Diaspora's kissing cousins. And I've kinda cherry picked my way through, looking up one section here and there, like I glanced at Stunts last night because I wasn't quite clear on them. I looked at the Space ship section because my PC is a space ship engineer dude and I wanted to have a sense of what might trials and tribulations might lie in that area.
  • edited November 2009
    I came up with Anton Kilkenny's bio:

    Childhood [Phase 1]: Born to Ashton and Markeena Kilkenny, two professors at Charleston University. A child of some privilege, Ashton was a willful boy. Always filled with a spirit of adventure and a love to tweaking authority figures, he also had a keen interest in games of all types. Love to play just about anything. Despite his liberal upbringing, Anton felt confined and maybe ...too safe. He ran away at 11 to join the Vestal Navy as a cabin boy. By the time he was a teen, he had moved into the junior officer academy.

    Navy Service [Phase 2]: The navy gave some important structure to the young, wild Anton. He was a promising officer, smart, quick, had an aptitude with mechanical systems. There was always a poker game going on base somewhere. But his disdain for bad leadership continued to hold him back and sometimes get him into downright trouble. His first tour he saw action as a young 2nd Lt at 16 on the cruiser class VES (Vestal Empire Ship) Valiant Griffin. His silver spoon captain, Jon Richart was incompetent, getting the job through connections as opposed to merit. The action saw the Valiant Griffin holed in 5 separate places. 2nd Lt. Anton led repair teams while under fire and kept the Valiant Griffin afloat. He was rewarded with a 1st Lt. promotion and the command of long range recon Scout "boat" B-122. His 2nd tour once again resulted in a fiasco from higher command. During the last days of the war, the B-122 was sent on a deep recon far out from the Binghamton system, because the Admiral Leon Schneckty was convinced that Ovid ships had slipped through before the blockade was in place and where hiding (for 5+ years) somewhere out there. This was over Lt. Anton's serious objections. Not only did B-122 miss the final battle of the war when the Ovids made a push for the bargaining table by attacking the small Vestal fleet at Binghamton, B-122 almost ran out of fuel and water because of orders to continue to stay far, far on the periphery of the system. Lt. Anton came back to find Leon Schneckty then denying he sent the B-122 out and it was Lt. Anton's own initiative and that it was Lt. Anton's own desertion that left a hole in the blockade. Anton got back at Schneckty by sneaking into the admiral's quarters and sending the private log of the admiral on a news drone back to Vestal. Then punched the admiral out on the review deck of Fort Trafalgar in front of everyone. Anton was drummed out of the navy.

    Moment of Crisis [Phase 3]: Given his almost supernatural ability to count cards, keep statistics and read people, Anton found that gambling could actually be a living. By the time he was 25 he was a full time professional gambler, travelling all over the cluster for a game or two. And while he could do sleight of hand, create mechanical cheats for every type of gambling, he disdain cheats and cheaters... often going out of his way to punish them. No, he preferred Lady Luck and a whole lot of prep work called research. He will study vids of other professional poker players, he will read voraciously about sports teams and statistics. He has worked as a croupier at various Casinos for 2 months to 1/2 a year. Eventually, he became well-known and eventually was invited to invitational only Mah Jong tourney on Covert. Which rarely invites non-Ovidians. At the same time, and underground poker tournament was happening. Anton did extremely well and won the freedom of some 50 clone slaves when the Tong boss Ibichi put them up as collateral. Then at the public tournament, he discovered that Jung Soo and Rennie Gertz were in collusion and using sleight of hand to build the best hands so Jung Soo would win, Anton called the two on it. Jung Soo drew on Anton, Anton shot him, severely wounded him, and then covered Gertz who was thinking of drawing his own hideout. The court was going to be stacked against Anton Luckily, Paul Rojas was at Covert, looking to recruit some naval clones. He also pieced together that Jung Soo and Rennie Gertz were Ibichi's men and had deliberately provoked Anton to try and kill him. With diplomatic pressure from the Vestal Navy and gov't, blackmail by Rojas, Anton was released into Rojas's custody.

    Sidetracked [Phase 4]: The 450 passenger Starliner Passionate Embrace was the way back to Vestal space for Rojas, Anton and most of the 50+ clones. Sabotage is suspected, but never been proved. When Passionate Embrace Slipped into Vestal space, it was waaay off track. And just to add fire, the jump seemed to trigger some kind of coma-like flu in most of the ship's crew. The firepan is that several subsystems were off-line and oh yeah, Vestal's largest gas giant with the biggest gravity well was right outside the window. Carter Manning, a "named" clone came to the rescue. Having been trained as a naval officer, Carter took control of the remaining standing crew and more than a few civilians. Anton quickly fell into old navy habits and help get key systems back online while Carter plotted a slingshot maneuver around the massive planet.

    Recruited [Phase 5]: Rojas, having gotten the okay to put together a crew for a Valiance Arms ship, offered both Carter and Anton jobs. While Anton is not convinced that Valiance Arms is the benevolent megacorp we all see in the AdVids, he does owe Rojas and he does like Carter. Carter gets a ship. Anton gets to travel and see if there are more games to be had. And maybe a bit of adventure too.
  • I really liked reading the book. There was one jarring layout transition but other than that, it was a fine read that left me wanting to play.
  • I'm with Judd here. Haven't finished the book, but I appreciate the presence of the authors in the text. It's nice to have design choices put in context.
  • Posted By: Maltese ChangelingI'm with Judd here. Haven't finished the book, but I appreciate the presence of the authors in the text. It's nice to have design choices put in context.
    This is interesting because while writing a lot of that I came here (and some other places) for advice on incorporating design notes in the text. What we produced was basically what everyone told us not to. :D Not because we are perverse and contrary, but because we tried it and the voice was boring. We WANT to be designers talking to other designers, because we have always been designers at play since we were 11. That's our audience too.
  • I've been reading the SRD, specifically the spaceship section. Because I'm gonna be the spaceship engineer, thought I better know how the things work in a game mechancis way. But I read something that made me shake my head a bit because while I see where the designers are trying to get drama and conflict in space combat... I'm not sure how much of real physics problem it really is. Now, I'm no space engineer...and maybe I'm flat wrong. And I did kind of come up with a cool handwavium solution to my own conundrum.

    Okay, first let me quote the SRD on spaceships:
    Heat is always a problem, and an inability to dissipate heat can get one into trouble. Burn your engines too much, or fire too many lasers, and you start to have problems in combat yourself, because of an inability to radiate heat into the darkness of space.
    Okay, here is my problem with that statement. How hard would it be to just build in baffles? Just vent in some cold space. 85% of the time, space is pretty damn cold. Water coolant combined with the easy, no -energy needed to freeze it, results in a pretty cold way to keep down heat build up.

    So, here is my handwavium workaround. Sure, you can vent your heat into space easily enough at the push of a button. The problem is that these engines are closed systems. You can do it, but they you've lost half of your plasma and fuel.
  • edited November 2009
    Space isn't cold, Storn. There's nothing in it, by definition and therefore no way to conduct heat away. Heat only leaves spacecraft by radiation. Edit: as always, Atomic Rocket has the straight dope on reaction-drive spacecraft.
  • edited November 2009
    Fair notice: as a physics expert, I am a hell of an Accountant. [grin]

    Yep, space is a big vacuum-thermos. Now, you can drum up radiators and such to sink the heat away, but that is a delaying tactic. You can dissipate heat into ejected cargo (structures and chemicals you heat up to transition point and then release) and your engine will release it heat as it ejects re-mass (and you might even be able to dump some waste heat from elsewhere in there with the right design) . All this makes you light up like an Christmas tree to various sensors.

    Also, the difference in charges between your vessel and passing objects can cause all kinds of hilariously fatal problems too. This apparently also happens to Submarines for slightly differing reasons.

    One possible "good enough for sci-fi" solution might be to use a heat-conductive harpoon and line to spear cometary ice and such on pass-by to allow you to radiate extra heat to these bodies using good old thermodynamics. You would need to be in matching vectors to have the time for this to work.

    [Edit] BTW, I just checked the Atomic Rocket link and that is a neat place!

    On a side note:

    The PC/X-Box game Mass Effect features the "PC ship", The Normandy, that has an advanced heat radiating system that allows for "stealth operation" by keeping the hull as close to background temp as possible by radiating to the shielded core of the ship. This is dangerous long-term because it can bake the contents of the hull and everyone inside if used too long. You also must already be under the desired course, as the engine cannot be used (or it will give you away)

    The write-ups you can read in the game are kind of neat. Each time your ship docks at the Citadel, you can see couples connecting to radiate heat and charge away from the hull.
  • Okay, interesting. But what about just pushing the heat out into space? I mean, just blow it out there. What would stop you from doing that? Trap the heat into an atmosphere/gas, open the airduct and vent the heated gas out. If it doesn't go easily, blow it out with fans. Oh sure, it would not be a stealthy way to get rid of heat in any way shape or form...

    But maybe i'm not getting it. I took a look at Atomic Rocket and that is a cool site.
  • You can dump heat by ejecting hot gas, but that means you're ejecting valuable mass (you need that for propulsion) and you're generating thrust. It's not practical in volumes significant to the heat you're holding on to. What you want is something that recycles the heat-bearing material -- radiating fins that cycle coolant internally, for example, which is how the ISS dumps heat (though it is dealing with very small amounts of heat compared to a long-range spacecraft and a fraction again of that borne by a military spacecraft with weaponry). One of the niftier (and higher technology) methods is a kind of shower of liquid sodium droplets that spray through open space into a collection trough as a fine droplets represent an enormous surface area from which to radiate. But you have to re-collect it or you'll run out in short order.
  • Okay, Half, that answer is what I had kinda come up with as a game response answer to Diaspora spaceships... neat to know that thought is based in some solid science. Cool. I learned quite a bit. Thanks!!!
  • Happy to help, of course!
  • edited November 2009
    Cluster data download commencing.

    Please stand by...

    New Ovid

    *Export: Slaves
    *Clones and Corruption
    *Cloning is the work of god

    Tech: +2
    Env: +2
    Res: +2

    "Our holy work will be done by multitudes, engineered by god's own designs. When the divine toil is done, Elijah will report the coordinates of our savior, beyond man or woman, to take us to the blessed seat of our ancestors, the Holy Planet, the land of Red Dust, the Middle Kingdom."

    - Genetic Destiny Report, Double Helix Revelations, 3:12

    Culture: New Ovid's lush system is administered by a theocratic state, a complex science-religion with a hierarchical society of cloned slaves, science-priests and bureaucrats. The war's harsh impact on the system, along with a powerful scientist caste led to the rise of this powerful religious state. The religion is building towards a prophesied transhuman messianic scientist who, according to their holy book's formulas, will deliver the lost art of the FTL drive, allowing for the human empire to be whole once again, uniting the lost tribes and taking the faithful to Old Earth.

    Description of New Ovid System: The system's slipknots lead to Vestal, Candor and Lodi, making it a vital hub for the entire cluster, rivaled only by Vestal itself. New Ovid's capital planet, Covert (capital city: Chung Kuo), is a lush garden with diverse environments that are entirely colonized from the ocean's depths to the space elevators leading to low orbit satellites. Several other planets, N.O.II, N.O.III and N.O.IV are being terra-formed by clone slaves, led by the finest xenographical engineers in the cluster. The worlds are harsh at best and brutally dangerous at worst but are well supported by a robust system of satellites and spaceports.

    Habitation: The population of the New Ovid system is just under 15 billion people, including clones. Covert is said to be the planet where the ancient astronauts first set foot after landing in their FTL arks. The bishops claim that all of the beasts on Covert are from ancient Earth, having been transplanted. Any species deemed to be not of Earth origin by the holy scientists are quarantined and stamped out.

    The population on the capital live in tremendous towers that connect with geo-synchronous satellites, erected by the ancients. The clones live in cramped mega-cities that burrow into the earth while the holiest of the functionaries live in natural wonderlands.

    The cloned slaves are exported all over the cluster as both slaves to those systems where it is legal and as indentured servants. The cyclopean factory cathedrals that manufacture the clones can be found all over the system, well guarded as holy industrial sites.
  • Vestal

    * Aggressively Imperialistic
    * Fading Glory
    * Plague-Ridden

    Tech: +2
    Env: -2
    Res: -2

    If the name of the Vestal system resonates in your bones, that’s only because it’s the lynchpin of the entire star cluster. When our ancestors arrived here from Earth, it was the Vestal system that first attracted their attention. A number of inviting worlds and moons with both appropriate environments and needed supplies; it became the lynchpin of man’s development here; with only the settlers of New Ovid as any serious competition.

    However, years, decades, and centuries of the need for growth and expansion lead to the depletion, degradation, and destruction of everything that had attracted the settlers here in the first place. The environments of the habitable moons were choked by the extraction of planetary mineral wealth for construction, and became less pleasant, then unpleasant, then hostile. Oh, you can survive on most of the established worlds, but only long enough to die an unpleasant lingering death rather than an immediate one. As the atmosphere grew worse, the worlds of the Vestal system (2 Earth-like planets and 1 habitable moon) moved more and more in to domes and tubes. These aren’t necessarily air tight, even if there are airlocks to the outside – they don’t need to be. They just filter all the crap out and leave the pure. The richer you are, the better domes you can afford to make your home in, and the better the filters make your air. In the poorest dome slums, the major difference between the outside and the inside is that inside, you’re more likely to be mugged.

    As it became obvious that Vestal was not going to last forever, waves of manifest destiny swept the people, and 2 grand colonization efforts were sent out. In the Ithaca system, a variety of garden worlds made the colonization easy. They quickly became self-sufficient, self-ruling, and a valuable trade partner. Binghamton was always going to be a massive effort, and the effort was made… but… it just never worked out the way one would hope. There are some who say – probably rightly – that it was Binghamton that broke the Empire.

    The war came, and the war went. Vestal was already out of funding from the failed efforts at Binghamton, but the worlds were never in really grave danger from the war – the system just had too much military might to really be in danger of outright destruction. Maybe that’s why the war went “bacterial”. People talk about the Plague as if it were one disease, but that’s not how it was. Weapons labs weaponized, and deployed, militant versions of over 2 dozen of the virii, bacterium, and fungi that mankind has been dealing with for millennia. Sure, there were communities devastated by the more expected necrotizing bacteria and deadly flus, but there was also a dome-city completely destroyed by a monstrously infectious and hungry variation on ringworm. For the most part, the plagues were programmed to destroy themselves after a few days, but sometimes, someone opens the wrong box with the wrong spores left over…

    Everyone knows that the days of Vestal's glory is behind them, but no one in power is ready to really acknowledge it yet. In fact, a new wave of hawkish politicians have swept in to office, even with the war a recent memory, who are pushing for military power to be the only power that matters in the system, and who want to take whatever they want “for the greater good”. Strangely, this has also led to the rise of the anti-slavery movement. The movements started on the more enlightened communities of Ithaca, but were taken up by those who correctly identified New Ovid as the main rival for power, and is used as an “us versus them” scenario. In the end, how many people in Vestal actually care if a clone has rights or not is probably fairly different from how many say they do.

    So, Vestal. The Old Crown, the Tarnished Jewel. The blackened heart at the center of all human endeavor. God help us all.
  • Candor

    * Heavy Worlder Miners
    * Hangs in the Balance
    * Ferociously Independent

    Tech: +1
    Env: +2
    Res: 0

    Candor is a G Class Yellow star surrounded by 4 planets:

    Castor: A “dwarf giant” planet. Castor’s orbit takes it close to it’s neighbor Bellerophon twice a year. This unique positioning makes it a sub-tropical environment for part of the year. The Castorians also live in a 2.1g environment. The planet is home to some 11 million people and is ruled by a global government acting under a Jeffersonian 3 democracy (Executive officer is chosen by lottery from the population and serves 6 years, Legislative Parliament is comprised of ministers from some 400 parishes and manors serving 4 year terms with only one re-up, Judiciary is comprised of a Tribunal chosen by Executive)

    Bellerophon: A Hot Jovian planet, its surface temperatures and pressures are so great that it emits nearly the same amount of temperature as a red star, reflects almost no light, and metals form a vapor in its atmosphere. These vapors are mined by Heavy Worlders from Castor. Bellerophon is the 2nd furthest from Candor.

    Pegasus: Bellerophon’s major moon. Habitable and used as the mining companies’ base of operation.

    Glaucus: Bellerophon’s minor moon. This moon crosses the planet’s magnetic field generating massive electrical discharges which are harnessed by the miners for their continued operations.

    Pollox: 3rd from Candor and much colder, but still habitable. Most of this planet is aqueous and ice-encrusted which is used to provide other areas with fresh water and ablative shielding for spacecraft. Candor is home to 1 million souls and follows Castor in its government. Pollox also has an array of mass drivers used to slingshot asteroids and ice chunks in-system for processing.

    Aegeus: The other Gas Giant in the system, this planet has rings. The atmosphere is too turbulent to be an effective mining operation. The rings on the other hand…

    Originally, a mercantile colony of New Ovid in the Days Before, Candor now enjoys a respectable independence and a curiously involved constituency. The system allows indentured servitude, usually with a 40 year contract, for clones to do the menial jobs around the various habitable planets. The more hazardous jobs of mining in dangerous atmospheres, etc., are dealt with by semi-volitional robots. The resurrected motto of Candor is: “Live Free or Die!”
  • Lodi

    * Backs against the wall...
    * Ancient Archive
    * One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter

    Tech: -1
    Env: -1
    Res: -2

    "Oh no, stuck in Lodi again."
    - ancient folk song

    Description of Lodi System: Lodi consists of five gas giants circling a pair of dim suns. The suns are known as The Crones and the gas giants are known as the Five Cruel Brothers. There are archaeologists who believe the moons once were terra-formed for human occupation but even if this was true, the effects have long since been reversed, either through poor xeno-terra-engineering or biological warfare with technology too horrifying to contemplate.

    New Ovid once tried to colonize the system and set up a series of satellites around many of the moons but the endeavor was not cost-effective and the satellites were abandoned. The satellites whose orbits have not entirely deteriorated have no more air. Air is obtained through lengthy and expensive processes that draw oxygen out from ice under the moons' crusts and from mercy missions from New Diaspora.

    The only gates to Lodi lead to Candor and New Ovid.

    During the war, New Ovid used the system as a place to safely re-fuel its battleships and sometimes press gang Lodi folk into naval service. Many of these press-ganged veterans have returned to the system to inform their brethren of the garden worlds to be found in other systems, causing agitation and preaching revolt.

    Habitation: The population is just under five million, a staggering amount, considering the brutal conditions these people live under. They are seen as desperate and are known for hijacking spaceships or breaking them down for parts or stealing their breathable air and burying the crew in a crater. Before the war, there was talks of relocating everyone in the system but negotiations broke down when no one could figure out where exactly to put them and as talks were underway, several goodwill ships containing air and water were hijacked, crews left to the vacuum.

    The indigenous space travel is not done with fuel as much as using the gas giants' gravity and the satellites as whiplash stations to break orbit and be sent into space. Lodi-born space travelers are known as Whips and have the mystique that cowboys, samurai and astronauts did on Old Earth.

    The pride of the system is the archive, built in a bunker, built deep within New Daedalus. Several terrorist groups have tried to take it over by force, holding its knowledge for ransom to the rest of the cluster but the Archivists have a brutal counter-terrorism team, comprised almost entirely of free-clones from New Ovid. Air and water comes from all over the star-cluster to the archives, in order to keep governments' rights to seek out its information resources.
  • Binghamton

    * Colony, Scranton
    * Fucked
    * Wild Frontier

    Tech: +1
    Env: -2
    Res: -3

    Description of Binghamton System: The Slipknot for Vestal is the only route to the Binghamton System. It consists of 1 large yellow star, 4 large gas giants and 12 planetoids (pluto size), none of them anywhere near the 1g mark. The moon called Scranton that is around Bing III is the only body at or near 1g and it happens to be exactly at 1g. But due to its orbit, it is an erratic planet, with large tidal oceans that are barely oxygen producing and 1/2 of the 435 day year, they dry up as the planet moves away from Bing III and gets too much radiation and heat. This dries up the oceans and locks it into swirling clouds of methane, hydrogen and barely any oxygen. When the planet moves into the shadow of Bing III again, the Monsoons begin, and the deluge starts.

    : Pop: approx 701,000. The colonization of Binghamton system was an enormous financial burden on the Vestal Empire. It cannot sustain itself. The atmosphere calls for rebreathers and head to toe covering in the "summer" and aquatic versions of self contained space suits in the "winter". Most of the life on the planet is inedible, yet doesn't seem to mind eating us, like the giant Siltworms that slither in the silt of the oceans. What it does have in abundance is easily transformed silica into microchips. But with no space elevator, too expensive to export. There are 3 major robotic factory/firms and 5 dozen mom & pop robotic manufacturers on Binghamton.

    Most of the population live in the Spheres, ranging from 1000 to 10,000 pop in size. Designed to ride out the tidal waves, volcanoes and earthquakes during the "winter" months when the ocean is raging, they settle into the silt during the summer months. There is also one decrepit space station that has shuttle service down to the planet and a slightly better Research station around Bing III.

    Scranton is actually quite mineral rich, occasionally diamonds can be found on the ground. Rubies, sapphires, plenty of natural gas, oil from yearly dying plant life are on the moon. However, it is SOOO lethal to try and get it. Seems that the alien lifeforms have a preternatural desire to rip apart man and machine. Robotic platforms the size of ancient terran oil rigs have been dismantled in a night. Then it is so expensive to try and move it out of Bing III's orbit. But it is the Big Score that keeps Binghamtonians in system. And that they have no where else to go.
  • Ithaca

    * Enclave (Of Vestal Empire, but can keep their own systems/money aka Hong Kong)
    * System works
    * Everything happens under the surface

    Tech: +1
    Env: +1
    Res: +1

    Remaining cluster data forthcoming.

    Please stand by...
  • Wow. Great stuff. I like New Ovid and Binghamton in particular. It would be really fun to invoke that second Binghamton Aspect against the players at will.

    Our group made a cluster and is starting a game too. Super excited about it. We had a Resource 4 system. I imagine we'll find time to share soon.
  • Posted By: nemomemeWow. Great stuff. I like New Ovid and Binghamton in particular. It would be really fun to invoke that second Binghamton Aspect against the players at will.

    Our group made a cluster and is starting a game too. Super excited about it. We had a Resource 4 system. I imagine we'll find time to share soon.
    I really wanted a tech 4 system. I love those. Any of the extremes, 4 or -4.

    Once you've got the cluster written up, maybe go post it up at the Clusternomicon?
  • edited November 2009
    Posted By: JuddI really wanted a tech 4 system. I love those. Any of the extremes, 4 or -4.

    Once you've got the cluster written up, maybe go post it up at theClusternomicon?
    Will do.

    Those extremes are hard to hit on 4dF. Even with 24 attempts (an 8 system Diaspora cluster) you've only got about a 57-58% chance of having one or more +/- 4s for any of the characteristics, much less specifically +4, specifically Tech. But yeah, Tech 4 would be cool.
  • Science is hard, but this thread is doing a really good job of selling Diaspora to me.
  • It shouldn't be that hard to flatten out the curve.

    Maybe take a d10 (numbered 0 to 9) and subtract 5. Treat -5 as another 0.

    Or completely renumber a d20 into whatever curve you want.
  • How about fudging the Fudge dice? I know fudging is heresy in this neck of the woods... But hey, if the consensus at the table is "we need a technologically crazy advanced system in our cluster" I can't see who it would harm.
  • Hey Brad! Lulu says I don't get to buy Diaspora.

    This, after a good 30 minutes of dicking around trying to figure out how to buy Diaspora. :-?

    Based on my past couple marketing webinar/roundtable things, this is an extremely, EXTREMELY common issue with indie games. You're in good company. In any case, you might give Lulu a poke.

  • Brad knows:
    Lulu is having sudden, inexplicable, and infuriating technical trouble with our book at the moment -- though they successfully printed it almost 500 times already, one glitch and they hang up the phone. You may detect some frustration.

    We are working with Lulu to resolve this and expect to be up again shortly. In the meantime, the game is also available at EndGame in Oakland, CA; Leisure Games and Patriot Games in the UK; Sphaerensomething Spielmaster in Germany; Craving for a Game and Drexoll Games in BC, Canada.

    I'll post very publicly when the Lulu shop front is working again. And thanks very much for being interested!

    And I'm quite frustrated too! I'll push for a very genocidal system when I get to play, as a reprisal!
  • Posted By: nemomemePosted By: JuddI really wanted a tech 4 system. I love those. Any of the extremes, 4 or -4.

    Once you've got the cluster written up, maybe go post it up at theClusternomicon?
    Will do.

    Those extremes are hard to hit on 4dF. Even with 24 attempts (an 8 system Diaspora cluster) you've only got about a 57-58% chance of having one or more +/- 4s foranyof the characteristics, much less specifically+4, specifically Tech. But yeah, Tech 4 would be cool.

    Or you could roll d6-d6. If you round the +5 and -5 results to +4 and -4 respectively then you should get your extreme results about 16.6% of the time.
  • d6-d6 isn't something I like much. Here's what I recommend: if you want a T4 system, point to one of the systems and say "This one is T4." Don't keep rolling (or, worse, change the whole prob curv) until you you get it. If you want it, take it.
  • d6-d6 is the devil.
  • Valiance Corporation Action Memo - Sars Family Oxygen Mining Company Contract

    To: The Board, Diplomatic Corps. - Candor, Diplomatic Corps. - Lodi, Paul Rojas, Libertine Logbook

    Opportunity: Sars Family Oxygen Mining Company arrived at the Valiance main satellite, in geosynchronous orbit above Vestal City. They docked with a newly christened slipship from New Ovid but registered as the Credence with a Vestal shipyard, on the fringe but surely trustworthy.

    Paul Rojas, an up and coming middle manager, was given a crew with all of the skills necessary to broker corporate policy across slipstreams. Along with Mr. Rojas was Captain Carter Manning of his Valiance-leased ship, The Libertine, and Anton Kilkenny, a new hire, a highly decorated engineer from Ithaca.

    The Sars family was seeking supplies, military-grade weapons and the ability to ship their deep-mined oxygen beyond Lodi.

    Actions: Rojas' team had legitimate concerns. Lodi has a reputation for piracy and terrorism and the Sars family's ship was of dubious origin, a New Ovid made slave ship. Kilkenny's initial scans noted that the ship's hold was filled with cryo-tubes filled with clone slaves. As part of the negotation process, these slaves were awoken and freed, relocated by a non-profit, non-governmental organization that aids clone-refugees who have made their way to the Vestal system.

    The Sars family's mining is among many holdings on their moon. They are also involved in the Lodi barter economy and to some interpretations, their family could be seen as a crime family or even a full-blown syndicate. The Sars delegation was comprised of the eldest son, Carlov Sars, their eldest daughter, Min Sars and a cousin named Solace, a clone. How Solace was a cousin when he was indeed vat-grown was not clear, though the adoption of outsiders into a family, even clones, and calling them cousins is not uncommon in Lodi.

    With Kilkenny on board the Credence as engineer and Min on board the Libertine the ships traveled to Lodi via the Candor slipknots.

    Profit: After a month of hard negotiations, the team set up a foothold with the Sars Family that should prove profitable before too long, giving the Valiance Corporation a strong place at the Lodi table. Rojas convinced the patriarch of the family, a hard-nosed vacuum-warrior named Kale Sars to give Candor's mining robots a try, despite Lodi's strong superstitions and bigotry against machines of that sort.

    Kale signed his name to an agreement that would get the mining operations away from its slave-based economy and into a robotic foundation, as long as it proved profitable after a quarter of work.

    Congratulations to Paul Rojas, who not only sealed a fine deal for Valiance Corporation profit and anti-slavery morals but also found himself a fine relationship with Min Sars, with whom he has entered into a romantic engagement. Should marriage blossom, this will only further strengthen the corporation's base in Lodi, as Min is cunning, archive-trained librarian and based on Lodi law, stands to inherit a controlling share of the mining company along with her brother.

    Stockholders Major and Stockholders Minor will be notified of this success once the deal is brokered with Candor's robotic engineers and we have a firm quarter of robot-driven profit at the mines. The Board is pleased that not only was a profit opportunity was created in a place where few see any but that in doing so, New Ovid was given a nice bruised eye in the process.

    Mechanical Thoughts:

    We had set up a cool playground but could we play there?

    Yes, we could. We breezed through stunts and left some blank for later. Honestly, I think we could start the game with nothing but aspects and fill in skills and stunts as we went.

    I set up a nice situation with profit coming into conflict with morals and family and corporation with the possibilities there for gun-play and space piracy if that is how the star decides to go nova.

    All being very corporate, I basically sent the players on a mission and off they went. The first part of the game was spent making rolls that put aspects on things in case shit went poorly.

    Storn's hard gambling starship engineer made an engineering roll to put a shut-down over-ride on the Sars family's ship, the Credence and it was an aspect, Shut-down over-ride.

    Pete's clone space captain tossed up an Emergency Shut-down for his own ship in case the Sars kids tried to hijack 'em.

    This was all being done together, as a group, a kind of team effort. I wanted some scenes with the characters alone, a kind flash of them each in their home environment.

    Did a scene with Pete among his clone brothers and sisters, all touching in a kind of web of hands on shoulders and on hips, discussing their distrust of Valiance but hope now that they were free. Pete made a nice speech and I asked him to make an Orate roll and put an aspect on the clone family, "Hope for the future..."

    JC's corporate middle man had a scene at a party of corporate suits, all discussing Rojas' most recent assignment, with jokes being amde about clones and a backwater assignment to Lodi. JC delivered a really nice line about how teams like his were the future of the company and again, I asked for a roll, putting the aspect on the company, "We are the future of Valiance Corp."

    Storn's gambler was in a high stakes game with the upper level CEO's when the Sars eldest son came in and started playing. Storn used gambling to put a taggable aspect on him, "I know your tell."

    I like those kinds of little conflicts. The conflicts don't change the world as much as allow the character to attempt to put a spice in the soup. Even if they failed, something would have happened to add taste. As it is, the aspects are there, offering mechanical benefits for future conflicts.

    I need to write about the social combat we had but its getting late and I am getting tired. More on the social combat tomorrow. I really liked how it shook out.
  • Posted By: HalfjackHere's what I recommend: if you want a T4 system, point to one of the systems and say "This one is T4." Don't keep rolling (or, worse, change the whole prob curv) until you you get it. If you want it, take it.
    Damn it, Brad. Why you always so good at elegant solutions?!

    Before I saw this post, my suggestion was going to be: When you do cluster creation, give yourselves a +2 token and a -2 token. You can spend one of each during the creation of the cluster, and apply it to any one score for a planet. So if you get a T2, E1, R-2 planet, you could say "let's spend the -2 token on the Resources of this system, make it really desperate!" And if you get a T-1, E2, R2 planet, you could say "let's spend the +2 token the Environment of this system, make it lush and verdant."
  • edited November 2009
    I will let Judd lay out the social combat, but it really worked for us. Although we did kinda go our own way in the social combat map making... using a square with 4 zones and each zone having a subsector that was opposed to the other subsector.

    Congrats to Judd for making corporate wheeling and dealing interesting. It was a very thoughtful, nuanced game, I think.... we joked around a lot as players.... but what the PCs did was done with a lot of deliberation. Not the usual slam-bam adventure story at all. The key thing that Judd did for me was to say "Hey, Lodi miners can ONLY make a profit if they USE clone slaves." And Lodi is really hurting as a system. This is about survival. Then both Carter and Anton, who are anti-slavery, had to walk a thin line of serving Valiance Arms, yet trying to make things better for clones.

    While Rojas is a corporate man, I felt the internal conflict in the group was note perfect, not so wrenching that it would rip the group apart before it started, but not glossed over either. There was one point where Carter and Anton were considering rescuing a shipment of cryo-sleeped clones and going all pirate-y. But backing off on that, I think was the more interesting path. As it was, Anton won at least that shipment of clones from Carlov during the social combat in an all-night Ithaca Hold'em card game (with my best roll of the night).
  • Posted By: StornI will let Judd lay out the social combat, but it really worked for us. Although we did kinda go our own way in the social combat map making... using a square with 4 zones and each zone having a subsector that was opposed to the other subsector.
    I am pretty sure the way we played it was straight up by the book. We might have futzed with the way stakes are set and finished but I'll write about that. I don't have my notes on me at work but the map itself is in my Valiance Corp. Folder at home (or maybe in my car).

    We might want to start using a hex-map with some dry-erase markers.
  • edited November 2009
    Yeah that sounds like a legit zone map. Playing with stakes and so on is encouraged -- the social combat is pretty "soft" in this regard. The important thing for the end is that you interpret the map state in light of the stakes and come up with a story for the results. This creates a vastly wider range of outcomes than a binary result based on fixed inputs can.
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