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Old 06-19-2017, 11:20 PM   #1
awarnock
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Default Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

So, I'm trying to build a setting for a GURPS game, and I thought it would be better to try and get feedback from people who've got a lot more experience than I in not only playing GURPS but coming up with settings for games and the like. I've made my first post and would appreciate any ideas or thoughts you'd like to share.

Without further ado, here's the link: Free Traders of Oani Dal.

One thing that I have noticed is that this is turning into much more of a beast than I had planned. I'm thinking that instead of diving straight into trying to run it, I get some experience with something with less moving parts. Probably some short adventures that may or may not have a loose connection.
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Old 06-20-2017, 01:17 AM   #2
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

Interesting stuff! A few initial thoughts:

Speeds of a parsec per day don't really limit a government's size all that much: consider the communications lags and travel times faced by the great colonial empires of Earth's history.

One factor that might limit political size is the mechanics of your star drive: do ships travel in short hops, or visibly through real space? If so, governments have a definite, defensive reason for establishing borders far from their capitals. If not — if, for example, a ship can spend weeks or even months at a time "submerged" in hyperspace, invisible to and untouchable by others until it reaches its destination after a long, invisible trip — then vast territory provides no defense against attackers who can emerge effectively from nowhere, and the only incentives to expand are economic (or religious, or nationalistic, etc.) rather than military.

How "deep" is the history of the setting? Is one race of beings the oldest and, if so, why don't they dominate the others? Was Earth visited by ancient astronauts? If not, why not? If a bunch of aliens all developed interstellar travel within a few decades of each other in a galaxy which has been capable of sustaining life for billions of years, that's going to cause some pointed questions and investigations (whether scientific or theological). Are there signs of Ancients / Precursors / Old Ones? How widespread and how recently?
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Old 06-20-2017, 02:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

Thank you. :)

I'll be thinking about a lot of the points that you raised but I can answer two of them.

Tackling the stardrive question first, ships can't dump heat while FTL. This means that internal heat capacitance is the major limiting factor. It also takes time to cycle the drive, though you can rush it, but that can cause bad things to happen. Most ships aren't going to be able to go more than 5 to 10 parsecs without stopping to cool off, and even a high-speed courier wouldn't be able to manage more than 15 parsecs before it had to stop to cool off. At any rate, the setting is more of a firm springiness than hard, so some of these are going to be handwaved away for plot convenience.

As far as history goes, it's not that deep. Most of those are point I may have to think on, but then again, see the firm springiness of the setting referenced above. I'm not trying to make the most plausible setting, just one where things are interesting and where there are several moving parts. I wasn't planning on having precursors, but I might wind up changing my mind considering I love the cutscene of the Keeper from Homeworld 2 and would love to pull that on my players.
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Old 06-20-2017, 09:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

For scale reference, the Milky Way is 1 to 4.5 kiloparsecs thick, so you're looking at a pretty insignificant volume, which seems to fit the feel you're going for. It's also a scale I happen to like, personally.

As far as travel speeds go, consider that the effective average travel speed is usually what is most important - not the per day speed. If, including stops for heat dissipation and charge, gives an average speed of 1.5 parsecs/day, build off that figure. You will also want a max sprint speed and sprint range (PCs will inevitably ask this and factor it into their plans.)

Some general worldbuilding-type questions:
1) When a ship uses FTL, does it travel through real space? Does it have to dodge planets and stars and stuff? Does it enter another dimention/universe and travel there? Does anything live there? How does that universe/dimension differ from ours? Does it need special fuel/material (dilithium crystals, hyperfuel, negative mass materials, etc.)?

Frex, I have a drive that momentarily transports a ship to "hyperspace" and then blinks it back in at another point in our universe. Stuff does live there and little is known about hyperspace. The laws of physics are very different, and it isn't particularly condusive to known life, hence the blink. Range is ootentially unlimited, but calculations get horrifically inaccurate pretty fast, so standard travel is a series of short hops. Effective speed is limited by how fast calculations are completed and drive charge time. The former dominates long distance travel speeds and the former dominates short distance travel times. And yes, sometimes 'hyperbeings' hitch a ride back to our universe.

2) What is commerce like? I find this plays a bigger role in shaping the feel of a setting than even political and military setups. How fast does new technology spread? Are there large economic disparities between regions? What sort of economic regions even exist? How does commerce and economics drive politics and policy? How does commerce spread cultures throughout the setting?

3) What are the dominant cultures (which are more robust and tend to dominate local cultures when introduced, e.g. western culture dominating local cultures worldwide resulting in loss of local cultures)? How does this affect local animosities and prejudices? How does this affect politics? How does this affect protectionism vs. openness in trade and customs laws? How does this affect immigration, visas, etc. (important for world-hopping heros!)?
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:12 AM   #5
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

Quote:
Originally Posted by awarnock View Post
One thing that I have noticed is that this is turning into much more of a beast than I had planned. I'm thinking that instead of diving straight into trying to run it, I get some experience with something with less moving parts. Probably some short adventures that may or may not have a loose connection.
First off, I'd strongly recommend reading Mailanka's PSI-Wars. Mailanka goes through the process of creating his own unique Star Wars inspired setting. Since you are working on a sci-fi setting, many of the same considerations will apply to your setting.

Most of your setting material looks solid.

You will need to elaborate on the FTL mechanics at a later date. Unfortunately, that isn't the kind of thing players like to hand wave. The way I'd handle this is to use the ship's FTL rating as its effective cruising velocity. And then use the vehicular "Red Lining" rules from the Basic Set to represent pushing the FTL drive to its limits.

I'm also concerned that you will overwhelm your players with choices. 10+ sapient races seems like too many to me. I'd personally use 6 to 7 races to make it more accessible for the player and to keep the races distinct.

Genetic engineering, cybernetics, and biomods will cause similar issues if you let players build these themselves. I'd recommend writing lenses for the commonly available modifications.

Otherwise, I think this is a good starting point for your setting.
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Old 06-20-2017, 10:30 PM   #6
awarnock
 
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

@Humabout: I'm planning on doing a post about the FTL drive and the specifics behind it as well as those of hyperspace. No hyperbeings though. Those don't fit with what I'm going for.

I'll have to think about two and three, and honestly, I'm not sure whether to hit that next or go with my original plan of figuring out what kinds of stories I'm going to be telling. (Which is involving me rewatching Firefly.) Thank you for raising them though.

@Emerald Cat: Thank you for pointing me to the Psi-Wars posts! I've been reading them when I can. I see that we're approaching things differently, but I'm getting a better idea of how to put this together now.

I'm planning on elaborating the FTL. I just wanted to nail down an impression if you will.

As for the number of Alien species, you're right and honestly, I think that trying to run this as my first GURPS game is asking for trouble. I'll still be working on it, but I think I might want to start running some short adventures that can be over in a session or two to get the feel for GMing it first.
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Old 06-21-2017, 09:01 AM   #7
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

Quote:
Originally Posted by awarnock View Post
As for the number of Alien species, you're right and honestly, I think that trying to run this as my first GURPS game is asking for trouble. I'll still be working on it, but I think I might want to start running some short adventures that can be over in a session or two to get the feel for GMing it first.
Sounds good. A TL 8 setting would be a good choice for your first few adventures. Modern Day settings work well because everyone is familiar with the available technology. If you set it on our Earth, then your players will be familiar with the setting without a lot of exposition.

A Low Tech (TLs 0-4) setting would also work. If your players are coming from a D20 background, they should be familiar with the technology. Skill bloat is also less of a problem because very few skills require specializations in Low Tech Settings. Unfortunately, injuries can easily become a problem before germ theory is invented. Either introduce healing magic into the setting, make them advanced in medicine, or use the optional rules to reduce the deadliness of infections.
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Old 06-21-2017, 09:01 PM   #8
awarnock
 
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

I think I'm going to be going with a TL8 adventure. A silly romp through the town I live in looking for a deranged killer sounds like it'd be fun to run.

I've also got the next post for the campaign setting written. I just need to proofread it and make some edits before posting.
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Old 06-22-2017, 10:47 PM   #9
awarnock
 
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

Next post is up! Go read it here!

It might be a bit before the next post on this topic. Thanks to Emerald Cat, who pointed me to the Psi-Wars posts, I've been reading those and rewatching Firefly to get a better fix on the feel of things. On the other hand, I've started working on a short little TL8 adventure that should be fun and over the top. I think I'm going to be using the GURPS Lite rules for this since 1) it's the options and not the rules that have been pared down as far as I can tell and 2) it's free so it's easy for new players to get their hands on and get on board.
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Old 06-23-2017, 12:14 PM   #10
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Default Re: Radioactive Blogging: Putting thoughts on a GURPS world to bytes

I just got done reading your post, and it repeats itself twice. Otherwise, it looks good. Considering the low CR of this civilization, characters and mercenaries being equipped with heavy weapons is believable.
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