Promethean Shadows, Chapter 2, Story Thread
The Stellar Highways have been reshaping the Milky Way Galaxy into something new. Something... different. What used to be the space equivalent of sailing an ocean is becoming more equivalent to driving a freeway, with off-ramps every hundred lightyears or so. Travel and communication across thousands of lightyears has never been easier.
With expanding travel networks, however, come expanding empires. Two such empires have met under uneasy terms, and signed an uneasy peace agreement designed to prevent a possible war which could cause massive collateral damage across the known regions of the galaxy. But can the Achenaran Imperium and the Illuminated Worlds ever truly be friends, or even allies? Or is this merely the beginning of a cold war? Or could this in fact be a buildup to one of the most largest interstellar wars the galaxy has ever seen?
And the regions in which the Stellar Highways have not become widespread... what's to become of them? How will the local factions of the various regions of the galaxy respond to the expanding domains of some of the more powerful factions of Orion and Sagittarius?
The story will unfold here, in the second chapter of the galaxy-building story project. The stories of the interstellar factions of the Milky Way will be defined here, in the Balance of Powers segment of the Promethean Shadows story.
This is a collaborative roleplaying story centered on storytelling, plot, and characters. This is different than most nation-building NRPs in that competition is not a central element of the story, and is in fact discouraged throughout most of the galaxy. Instead, the focus shall be on interaction between characters and character-controlled factions. For those of you who like to build, such as me, this is a sandbox in which ideas can be constructed, tested, and written in the form of plot-focused storytelling.
I also highly encourage everyone to write and develop non-player controlled factions (NPC faction) so that those who do desire to write war, conquest, and other forms of diplomacy may do so without necessarily fighting or destroying the primary works of any of the RPers. For every player-controlled faction, I highly encourage the construction of at least two NPC factions which you may interact with and have others interact with as well.
I will open some five regions for placement of player-controlled factions, but please be advised that the primary form of travel is still the space equivalent of sailing an ocean, unless your faction is on friendly terms with one of the few factions that possess stargate technology. Therefore, interaction between different regions is somewhat difficult and time-consuming, and war between regions is nearly impossible.
Character and Faction creation guidelines:
Promethean Shadows is story-based RP focused on character development as well as galactic politics. It is therefore of primary concern to create complex, interesting characters through which to write your stories and develop plot. Therefore, character creation is of primary concern, followed by the creation of player-controlled factions and NPC factions. All posts are to be written from the perspective of your characters, so take the time to create characters properly.
You may create as many characters as you desire and require in order to write your stories. Since all posts are to be written from the perspective of your characters, it is important to think about each major character in detail. The following character sheet provides an outline for character creation.
Age / Apparent age:
Description / Picture:
Faction creation is probably what inspires many of you to participate in this kind of RP, and is in fact the most difficult and time-consuming process of all. While faction creation is welcome it is NOT required to participate in this RP. Anyone may participate so long as they control at least one character. Running a faction is difficult and challenging, but can be incredibly rewarding. When running a faction consider whether you want to run it yourself, or if you'd like to recruit some of your friends to control characters of your faction.
The detailed process of faction creation involves five different information sheets of increasing complexity. It is not required to fill out every single form prior to joining the story development, and it is encouraged to continue to build upon the complexity of your faction over the course of this RP as well as any sequels that follow.
Please note that because it is difficult to create factions, destruction of factions created by other players without their permission is highly discouraged. The focus of this RP is on creation and storytelling, not the destruction and conquest of other player-controlled factions. Please consider carefully when creating your faction not only how it operates, but how it fits into whichever region you decide to place it in. Factions that cannot coexist peacefully with their neighbors may inevitably go to war, so keep this in mind when creating a faction so that you do not end up in a war you cannot win due to improper placement in a given region and sector.
With that in mind, here are the faction sheets:
Home Region and Sector:
General military information (Ground forces and space fleet):
Empire Population rating: (Please reference the miscellaneous section regarding population ratings)
Head of State:
Head of Government:
Description of government:
Description of economy:
Fill in a separate sheet for each ground forces unit of vehicle.
Size: Reference the size chart
Engine (if any):
Cost per unit: (Optional. Don't fill this in if you don't know. This is an economic balance issue which the Head GM will regulate)
Fill in a separate sheet for each spacecraft or other spacefaring vessel.
Size: Reference the size chart
Primary armaments: Include weapon mounts or configuration if applicable.
Secondary armaments: Usually turret-mounted.
Cost per unit: (Optional. Don't fill this in if you don't know. This is an economic balance issue which the Head GM will regulate)
In addition to creation of their primary faction, all players are encouraged to write at least two Non-Player Faction information sheets, so that we map fill the void of space with neutral factions that players may interact with to a limited degree, including diplomacy, war, and conquest.
Here are some modified non-player faction sheets that Cosmic Fury came up with and I edited slightly.
Head of State:
Empire Size: [In population and power level]
Sub-Factions: [Only if your faction is in a civil war. If not, completely delete this slot.]
Government Type: [Could be anything viable for a nation of your chosen size to exist.]
Political Situation: [State major problems with the government, along with telling us if the country is stable enough to function well on its own. Be as brief as you wish, but at least make sense out of this one -- it's important.]
Important Government Officials: [Only if they can be interacted with by others]
Economic Power: [Just state how strong -- or weak -- the economy is. Please be reasonable with this one.]
Major Imports/Exports: [Just list a couple of each.]
Head of Military: [Be as brief as you want -- but at least make some sense with this one.]
Military Power: [Give a reasonable description, and please keep it brief.]
Aggressiveness: [How much does your nation attempt to impose its will on others through force? How much does it resist having others impose their will on them? How far will they go to retaliate against insults attempted against national honor and pride? Just give a brief description.]
Temperament: [Give a brief description of your nations behavior and attitude towards others. This will heavily influence your NPC's role within the RP, and how it will automatically deal with its neighbors. Also state how far its influence reaches, if it is not an internationally isolated faction.]
Diplomats: [Only if they can be interacted with by others. Be as brief as you wish.]
Trading With: [Just make sense with this slot.]
Allies With: [Cannot be your own faction at the start of the RP.]
At War With: [If it's in civil war, just say that it's at war with Itself.]
Civilian technologies: (General information regarding non-military technology of the faction)
Military technologies: (General military technology, including weapons and defensive systems)
The various racial and cultural information is not limited to any given faction, and in fact some factions may include a variety of different races and cultures. Therefore, these information sheets are more of an accessory in order to better define the people that make up each faction. You may make as many races and cultures as you desire, and they may not be limited to any given faction, nor need they compose the majority of a faction either.
Average lifespan: This is the average age at which the race dies off due to old age, rather than illness or unnatural causes. Assume good health care but no lifespan-extending technology.
Many larger factions are sub-divided into smaller territories with their own local government. Since a large empire can be vastly different from kingdom to kingdom, this information sheet is an outline for how to define sub-factions such as Achenaran Kingdoms.
Name of local government:
Galactic Geography and Regions
The above map shows the location of the various regions of the Milky Way Galaxy in which Promethean Shadows takes place. The galaxy is some hundred thousand lightyears across, with somewhere between 200 and 400 billion different stars. The sheer size of the galaxy and number of stars requires this RP to focus in smaller regions, as outlined in the map. Each region is roughly 5000 lightyears across and divided into 25 different 1000x1000x1000 lightyear sectors. The regions currently accepting player-controlled factions will be outlined below. Also included are maps of each reason, but I am currently looking for someone to take over the editing of all galactic maps.
The above map, editted by SwiftOnRPGuild and his photoshop skills, shows most of the major powers of the Central Orion region of the galaxy. It does not list the Imperial Systems Commonwealth nor some of the recent expansion of existing factions, but is primarily accurate for most purposes.
Central Orion is home to the Achenaran Imperium, the hegemonic power whose influence is expanding across all active regions of the galaxy due to the construction of Stellar Highways. They maintain a monopoly on the Stellar Highways currently, being the sole owner of all star systems possessing stargates along the highways, but they allow all friendly factions to use the highways for peaceful purposes, provided they pay a reasonable fee to cover the expenses of running the network. Central Orion is one of the more peaceful, stable factions of the galaxy since the Emperor's crusade against piracy drove most pirates out, and rogue nations tend to be forced to keep a low key due to the proximity of the Imperial Armada. Despite the presence of the Imperium, there is plenty of room for more player-controlled and NPC factions, as you can tell from all the blank spots on the map. Central Orion is a good region for factions allying themselves with the Achenaran Imperium and factions which desire non-war related interactions. War and expansion are possible so long as the expanding faction adheres to the Galactic Laws.
Current player factions in Central Orion: Achenaran Imperium, the Clans
The above map by AmongHeroes shows the Central Sagittarius region of the galaxy as of mid 1013 GSY. Recent changes of the map include an significant expansion of Cygne.
Central Sagittarius is home to the Illuminated Worlds, a powerful hegemonic empire ruled by the Neir. They are the rival superpower to the Achenaran Imperium, and the enforcers of Galactic Law throughout the region. The noteworthy expansion of Achenaran influence into Cygne is a cause of an unsteady relationship between the Illuminated Worlds and the Imperium, as the Neir see the whole region of Sagittarius as being within their domain and the Achenaran expansion into the region as an intrusion. Similarly, the Achenarans view the development of Neir stargates as being a potential rival in the field of trans-regional transportation, and desire to prevent the Neir from expanding their stargate networks into regions in which the Achenaran stellar highways are the primary means of transportation.
Central Sagittarius is a good region for players seeking to ally themselves with the Neir while enjoying reasonable peace under the Galactic Laws. Player expansion is possible, so long as galactic laws are followed, but friendly terms with the Neir are encouraged in order to peacefully exist in this region.
Current player factions in Central Sagittarius: Achenaran Imperium (Cygne). Awaiting word from Raptorman whether Neir will be player-run or NPC.
This draft map by LilTheo shows some of the factions of the Central Perseus region of the Milky Way. While it lacks a sector grid, the general idea can be conveyed.
Central Perseus is a frontier region, home to three superpowers which include the Drow States and two others which have yet to be added to the map. Far from the center of most Achenaran power, the Stellar Highways end here in sector A3, where an Achenaran Expeditionary Force has made its headquarters in preparation to explore and monitor the situation of this region. For the most part, this area is free of Achenaran influence and control, and stability is maintained instead by an unsteady balance of power between the three local superpowers of the region.
There is currently an opening for one player-controlled superpower in this region and one NPC superpower. Other players may desire to ally themselves with one of the superpowers for protection. Perseus is one of the best regions to build and develop brand new factions, as this region has very little definition so far.
Current player factions in Central Perseus: Drow States (pending confirmation from Legion).
In the absence of any player-maps of this region, I have included instead my own blank grid map as a placeholder. Picture the center of the Union of Infinite Stars in the C4 region, while the bulk of Imperial Systems Commonwealth territory is in E5. The Achenaran stellar highway ends at Omega West, in C5.
The Western Orion region is home to several different major powers, all fairly equal in terms of power. The unsteady, shifting balance between so many different powers, as well as the absence of Achenaran presence, has led to a great deal of uncertainty throughout this entire region. Western Orion is a good place to position any major powers that you desire to create, as with the exception of a couple powers, this region is nearly completely undefined.
Current player factions in Western Orion: Still awaiting confirmation
In the absence of any player-maps of this region, I have once again included my own blank grid map as a placeholder. The Achenaran kingdom of Dragos should be in the B2 region, while the rest of the region is completely undefined except for a single star system around C3. The Achenaran stellar highway does not expand beyond Dragos.
The Eastern Orion region is home to the youngest races in all of the active regions of the galaxy. With the exception of Dragos, there are no major powers anywhere in the region, and it is instead home to numerous minor powers, all fairly new to the interstellar playing field. This is an excellent region for players to focus on small faction with lower technology levels, all new to interstellar exploration. The galaxy is new and bright, and incredibly mysterious.
Current player factions in Eastern Orion: Achenaran Imperium (Kingdom of Dragos)
These are information pages that better help define what some of the slots on applications mean, as well as general information regarding the galaxy in general. Please read and reference the given information if you plan on running a faction or just desire knowledge of how the galaxy works.
I've noticed in science fiction that different writers have very different ideas of how big a "big ship" is. If you've ever compared the actual dimensions of the Sovereign class from Star Trek with the Executor from Star Wars, you'll see what I mean. To give an overall economic balance to the galaxy, I have instead created size categories for all vessels, as mentioned briefly in the phase 4 and 5 information sheets above. The size chart is exponential in nature.. each size category is roughly twice the size of the one before it.
Size chart, with examples:
1: A small child
2: An adolescent or small adult
3: A large adult
4-5: Powered armor infantry and battlesuits fit into this range
6-8: Vehicles and other land craft. Small mecha fit into this range.
9-11: Most space fighters fit in this range, from light to heavy. Humongous mecha also fit into this range.
12-14: Most shuttle craft fit into this range, from small to huge
17-20: Escort starships (Such as fast attack craft, corvettes, frigates, destroyers)
21-25: Primary warships (cruisers, battleships, light dreadnoughts)
26+: Dreadnoughts and other capital ships. These generally command entire battle fleets.
"Galactic Law:" While there are no laws in an anarchy, these guidelines are considered "law" and justification for wide scale retaliation in the Central Orion region as well as any other regions that choose to adopt them:
1. Genocide. Wiping out a sentient race is likely to invoke the wrath of every single armed faction in the region. The only exceptions are races deemed "Galactic Nemesis", generally genocidal factions themselves who cannot be stopped unless they are permanently destroyed. Rather than wars of genocide, interstellar wars tend to involve conquering and subduing the local populace.
2. Interference in the affairs of undeveloped nations. Factions who indiscriminately attack an enslave pre-FTL worlds tend to invoke the wrath of the normally peaceful Surian Empire, who view themselves as the chaperons of undeveloped life forms. The Achenaran Imperium as well has strict non-interference laws.
3. Usage of biological weapons. Biological weapons are considered foul-play by most factions, and those who do are likely to have several factions allying against them out of disgust. Factions with a high reliance on biotechnology must conceal the true extent of their bio-weapons.
4. Needless destruction of nonmilitary targets. This includes killing civilians for no reason. In war, the objective is to overcome the enemy military and subdue the noncombatants, not kill them.
5. Space Piracy. Though frowned upon, piracy is the easiest war crime to pull off, because space pirates are known to prey on less-advanced factions in all corners of the galaxy.
Diplomatic Guidelines: While not specifically written laws, these are basic guidelines to dealing with foreign countries.
1. Never break a treaty. Factions who break treaties are never trusted by other nations to make further treaties, and soon find themselves without allies.
2. Don't attack people for no reason. Conquering factions without providing some sort of excuse or reason for doing so is likely to cause other nations to frown on you.
3. Don't harass diplomatic vessels. When a force approaches in peace, it's a good guideline to let them come in peace rather than irritating them by demanding to search and seize their ships.
4. Anti-piracy pacts. Factions who harbor or are friendly with pirates soon find themselves at war with the nations who are plagued by said pirates.
5. Extradition of criminals. Extradition is more a courtesy than a law, and nations who desire good diplomatic relations will detain and extradite individuals who have violated the laws of other factions.
A brief description of the various size ratings as listed on the phase two faction information sheet, since so many people are interested in controlling factions. This should help you understand what the numbers mean.
Size I = System-state. Population is around 10 billion, controlling a single star system or small number of local stars. Maximum sector control is 1%.
Size II = Micro-power. Population over 20 billion, controlling at least five star systems. Maximum sector control is 2%.
Size III = Minor power. Population over 50 billion, controlling at least a dozen systems. Maximum sector control is 5%.
Size IV = Regional power. Population over 100 billion, controlling at least 25 star systems. Maximum sector control is 10%.
Size V = Major power. Population over 200 billion, controlling at least 50 star systems. Maximum sector control is 20%.
Size VI = Great power. Population around 500 billion, controlling over 100 star systems. Sector control around 50%.
Size VII = Superpower. Sector control at least 100%.
Size VIII + = hegemonic powers. Usually control multiple sectors, with influence throughout entire regions. There should be very few of these in the entire galaxy.
Not all weapons are mounted in the same way. Many people think of turrets when they think of space ship weaponry, but turrets are only one form of weapon mount among a variety of possibilities. These are some of the weapon mounts that are common in the year 1013 GSY.
Turret mounts: Turret mounts are common on all starships, due to their ability to acquire targets rapidly at close range. They are the best type of weaponry for use in point defense, but are often used for heavy weapons as well. Turret capacity is limited by a ship's surface area, meaning smaller ships can utilize a higher turret to mass proportion.
Advantages: Quick target acquisition, 360 x 90 degree firing arc, does not utilize internal volume.
Disadvantages: Turret space limited by surface area. Larger ships carry proportionally fewer turrets than smaller ships. Turret-mounted weaponry is smaller and lighter than internal weapon mounts.
Weapon bays: Rather than using up surface space, weapon bays use up a ship's internal volume, generally mounted on the outside edges of a ship. Weapon bays have a much smaller firing arc than turrets, but can mount much larger weaponry. They also much less limited by the surface area of a ship, as the majority of a weapon bay uses up internal volume rather than external surface area.
Advantages: A versatile weapon mount. Heavier weapons than can be mounted on turrets, but still offer some degree of flexibility as the weapon can pivot somewhat in the weapon bay.
Disadvantages: Uses up higher internal volume than the volume of the weapon itself, due to the pivot mechanism that allows it a firing arc of up to 90 degrees. Energy weapons are usually too powerful to be powered by reactor power, requiring energy banks to store energy for weapons.
Launchers: Rather than direct-fire weapons, launchers rely instead on firing missile weapons. Generally referred to as "missiles" or "torpedos", the weapons fired from launchers are independently-guided and can be incredibly powerful. However, they require a target lock and take time to reach their targets, during which countermeasures and point defense can be deployed against them.
Advantages: Very long range. Tons of potential firepower in a very small missile.
Disadvantages: Missiles take time to reach their target. Ammunition can be expensive.
Hangar bays: Rather than using a direct-fire weapon, ships equipped with hangar bays rely on auxiliary craft such as spacefighters in a combat situation. Ships that rely primarily on hangar bays and fighter craft are generally called Carriers.
Advantages: A carrier relying primarily on hangar bays is able to stay away from the enemy vessel, relying on their fighters to deal damage and destroy the enemy.
Disadvantages: Hangar bays provide no direct firepower to speak of. All firepower is indirect in nature, relying entirely on the fighters stored inside the hangar bays.
Spinal mounts: Rather than mounting a weapon on a starship, a spinal mount is more akin to mounting a starship on a weapon. These weapons are incredibly large and powerful, usually fixed and forward-facing, although other variants of spinal mounts do exist. The starship is basically built around the weapon, and the weapon uses up a significant amount of internal space. Usually space fighters use this sort of weapon mount to some degree.
Advantages: Allows for the heaviest, most powerful weaponry available. Incredibly powerful and long-range. Not limited by surface area.
Disadvantages: Little to no firing arc, 5 degrees at the most. Uses up a huge chunk of internal volume, leaving very little for cargo. In order to fire forward-facing spinal mounts, the entire ship must turn to face its target. Extremely expensive, usually costing over a third of a ship's resource cost. Energy weapons must be powered by energy banks, as reactors cannot possibly generate enough power.
Popular methods of outfitting ship armaments, using the above-mentioned weapon mounts. These are samples, feel free to come up with any configuration you like.
These ships generally rely on surface-mounted turrets for all of their firepower, both offensive and defensive. Heavy and light turrets mount a variety of different weapons that can be fired in all directions. Many of these ships also use hangar bays to carry fighter craft, as their large internal space makes storing of auxiliary craft quite easy.
Advantages: Very high internal space, for troop transportation as well as cargo. Can engage targets in every direction.
Disadvantages: Very low firepower compared to other configurations. Larger ships have proportionally less firepower due to proportionally less surface area for turrets.
Examples: Star Destroyers from Star Wars use this configuration, as well as all EVE ships.
These ships rely primarily on side-mounted weapon bays, tending to turn their broad side to face the enemy and unleash a massive amount of firepower. They may also have bay or spinal mounted bow chasers or stern chasers, but their primary armament is in the broadside weapon bays.
Advantages: Higher total firepower than Classic configuration. Can engage opponents on both sides. Greater potential for point defense turrets, since heavy weapons are stored in weapon bays rather than on the surface.
Disadvantages: Can only bring a maximum of 50% primary firepower (one side) to bear on any one target.
Rather than relying on direct-fire weaponry, guided missile ships rely on firing missiles at their target from a distance. While it takes time for a missile to reach its target, guided missiles can be extremely powerful if they hit. Often use point defense turrets to defend against missiles, and large launchers as primary weapons.
Advantages: Extreme range. Potentially high firepower.
Disadvantages: High cost per shot. Delay between missile launch and impact can spell the difference between victory and defeat.
These ships have no offensive armament to speak of. They rely primarily on fighter squadrons launched from hangar bays for offense, and point defense turrets for defense. They generally fight at extremely long ranges, relying on their fighters to deal with opponents.
Advantages: Very long range. No need to directly engage opponent.
Disadvantages: No direct-fire weaponry to speak of. If fighters are disabled or unable to destroy the target, the carrier is virtually defenseless against a warship.
These ships rely entirely on forward-facing spinal-mounted heavy weaponry. Build around massive forward-facing weapons, these ships are both incredibly expensive and incredibly powerful. However, they can only fire straight in front of them. All surface area is devoted to point defense turrets, providing great protection against missiles and fighters.
Advantages: Highest possible direct-fire firepower focused on a single target. High point defense firepower.
Disadvantages: Extremely expensive. Lacks versatility. Must face a target in order to engage. Enemy can predict where you are aiming to within a 5 degree cone due to the nature of spinal mounts.
In order to keep track of some issues for future reference and allow people to more easily understand the technological balance that I need to enforce, I'm going to list some technologies that I don't want available anywhere, and a brief reason why.
Prohibited tech list:
Telepathy/telekinesis/psychics. Reason: No plausible scientific explanation. It's basically magic.
Teleportation. Reason: "Teleport an antimatter missile onto their bridge."
Combat FTL. Anti-warp fields prohibit FTL in combat. Reason: "Flash-warp an antimatter missile into their bridge."
Planetary destruction. Reason: While it's not difficult to wipe out all life on a planet, to actually blow up the planet itself requires about 25 trillion tonnes of antimatter. That's a lot.
Disintegrator weapons. Reason: The complexity required to simultaneously disassemble quintillions of atoms is too complex.
Quantum slipstream drives. Reason: They may be in research by the most advanced civilizations in the galaxy, but they're still 50 years off. It's really growth room for future development.
Zero point energy and quantum singularity reactors. Reason: Again, growth room for future development. These may be available within 50-100 years by the most advanced factions in the galaxy.
Matter-energy conversion. Reason: Many reasons, including the instantaneous fabrication of warships and the instantaneous destruction of enemy ships and planets by converting them to energy.
A fundamental question you might all be asking by this point may be "But wait.. where are the humans? Can I be a human from Earth?"
The answer is... "The humans exist. The year is 2013. So if you want to be a human, you'll need to be abducted by aliens."
Humanity and the Earth-people of the Sol system do not have a major role in this RP. The current year is Galactic Standard Year 1013, which is 2013 by the Earth calendar. Humans, therefore, are completely unaware of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence, and have yet to successfully place a live person on Mars, much less leave their own star system.
Humans are, for the most part, out of play. That doesn't mean that there may not be humans abducted by aliens, but any stories that involve Earth humans must be confirmed with me first.