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Old 09-06-2018, 01:07 PM   #11
Irish Wolf
 
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Default Re: Space Opera Factions

Aren't the Patrol just the police arm of the Diverse Federation of Nice Guys, like Star Trek's Starfleet, rather than being a faction in their own right?
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Old 09-06-2018, 02:19 PM   #12
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Default Re: Space Opera Factions

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Originally Posted by Irish Wolf View Post
Aren't the Patrol just the police arm of the Diverse Federation of Nice Guys, like Star Trek's Starfleet, rather than being a faction in their own right?
I think in Gurps Space "faction" just means "generic organization"*. I will have to look that up.

The OFS in Harrington is definitely a political contender in it's own right and are also not nice guys. But they also qualify as a Patrol, kind of like a municipal police subverted by the mob on an extranormous scale.

*I guess not looking that up. The book just uses "organizations". However I think that is what the OP is getting at anyway.
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Old 09-06-2018, 02:28 PM   #13
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Empires come in different flavors. You can do a glorious and honorable Rome, or a corrupt and decadent Rome, or both. Star Trek's Romulans were originally meant as a sort of Rome in decay. Later they were clearly evil Rome. China the wonderful is a good seldom used Empire. A sinister Fu Manchu China in space (can you say Ming the Merciless?) is also an option. A glorious radical Empire is also an option. The early Islamic Empires, brutal as they often were, saw themselves as liberators. Some people in their empires, including people not of their faith, would have agreed. You could have several different Empires with different strengths and weaknesses playing against each other.
The cliche "Empire" is evil. It is possible to have an empire no worse then an empire on Earth. "Good Empires" are just Federations with fancy clothes. But I think the rule of thumb in speculative fiction is that empire is shorthand for evil and large, even if particular authors use Imperial titles for a good state.

I don't remember Fair Cathay being used as the basis for a sci fi state. Unless you count the Ziru Sirka. One not mentioned which could be used is an empire which is never found on stage but from which come marvelous things. I think that would be a great setting hook.

If I remember Fu Manchu was a gangster not an Emperor. The idea really isn't incompatible in principal with a sympathetic China even if the original was incorrigibly racist.
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:24 PM   #14
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Default Re: Space Opera Factions

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I'm pretty sure the Bene Gesserit was mostly an evil faction.
I was describing them as a good/lively choice, not as women of virtue and saintly lives. I see them as brutal witches disguised as nuns. Still, although I see their technophobic, anti-democracy, brutally elitist, and profoundly dishonest behavior as evil, there are historical cultures that would likely see the Bene Gesserit as noble and/or good. They seek to breed better nobler kings. I have objections, many would cheer the Bene Gesserit on.

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The ESPers in B5 are bad guys but are not without sympathy if only because espers who are ununionized are persecuted.
Bad guys with a point and worthy of sympathy are the most dramatically interesting and gamable ones.
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:37 PM   #15
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Default Re: Space Opera Factions

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T

I don't remember Fair Cathay being used as the basis for a sci-fi state. Unless you count the Ziru Sirka.
China as a model for a good Empire was the idea I was pushing. It would be unexpected and fun.

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One not mentioned which could be used is an empire which is never found on stage but from which come marvelous things. I think that would be a great setting hook.
True.

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If I remember Fu Manchu was a gangster not an Emperor. The idea really isn't incompatible in principal with a sympathetic China even if the original was incorrigibly racist.
I was evoking certain orientalist tropes that haunt sci-fi's margins. Fu Manchu is often used as shorthand for the "Yellow Peril Myth" and I use him as such. By the way, remember that Fu Manchu's family, with the exception of one daughter, was wiped out by brutal and corrupt colonial officials. He had plenty of reason to hate and fear Britain and the West. Take Fu Manchu as your base and rework him as a deeply flawed hero fighting to defend his people and others from deadly imperialists. Heck, allow him a nuanced view of the world that sees where he can get allies and how to bring the strengths of other cultures into his own.
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Old 09-06-2018, 03:46 PM   #16
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Default Re: Space Opera Factions

As I noted in the original post, "Empire" doesn't necessarily mean "unrepentantly evil". It generally means "centralized, militant government". "Good guy" empires are bastions of law and order against anarchy (real and/or perceived), and most of the "bad guy" empires are more of a rival than truly Evil. (The Galactic Empire of Star Wars is the obvious exception.)

Not sure yet if I want to detail sub-factions inside one of the larger faction types in this primer. If I was making a full-fledged setting document, perhaps, but when making a genre primer stuff like that is likely overkilling the minutia.
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Old 09-06-2018, 06:48 PM   #17
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As I noted in the original post, "Empire" doesn't necessarily mean "unrepentantly evil". It generally means "centralized, militant government". "Good guy" empires are bastions of law and order against anarchy (real and/or perceived), and most of the "bad guy" empires are more of a rival than truly Evil. (The Galactic Empire of Star Wars is the obvious exception.)

Not sure yet if I want to detail sub-factions inside one of the larger faction types in this primer. If I was making a full-fledged setting document, perhaps, but when making a genre primer stuff like that is likely overkilling the minutia.
Ok.

A lot of the states that call themselves empires are not really "militant" or "centralized" but hodgepodges of aristocratic interests.

The Manticoran "Empire" was an attempt to change an alliance into a federation. The word Empire is used simply to emphasize that direct interference is theoretically not the goal so long as no one goes round burning widows. It is used to point out that it is NOT centralized (because if it was any annexed people would be part of the KINGDOM of Manticore).

Barrayar is closer to what you want. But it is in peacetime under an Emperor who is more interested in development then conquest. The Vor certainly were "militant" and bloodthirsty as they were, their fathers were brave. The present Vor are starting to mellow. In a way this shows a realistic situation of a successful belligerent adjusting to peace. A lot of the Vor certainly are nostalgic for the bloody old days but others are interested in the potentialities of the present time.

The Imperium in Traveller is aristocratic and dedicated to law and order. It never was "millitant" except in the sense that most states are.
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:25 PM   #18
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Default Re: Space Opera Factions

Someone mentioned "Casablanca Station". They're right. A starport that is a center of intrigue is an important idea.

DS9

B5

The Vor Game

Cherrh likes this one.
------------------------------------------------------
The Space Elves:

These are of varying qualities. They can be romanticists or rationalists. Or simply weird. But they are always beautiful even when they are evil.

The Minbari on B5. They can be pretty awful but the ones we see most are Deleen and Lennier. They are definitely not morally superior to humans but are aesthetically superior.

The Yrthians in People of the Wind: Warrior-poet space eagles with a stoic religion
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The Hive: multitudinous bodies controlled by a joint mind. Almost always evil and good hives are a conscious exception. The details such as the range of their telepathic link are curiously left out on most occasions.

Mindlinks of a lesser degree then a blatant hive are often good. Trill are good as are Treecats.
--------------------------------------------------------
The Hattys:

A culture made in a conscious copy. If the original is obscure enough or the writer is good enough, he might actually get away with it.
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Old 09-07-2018, 04:25 AM   #19
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Default Re: Space Opera Factions

A few more:

The Feudal State
In the Feudal State, power is very decentralized. This often comes as a result of strong local polities creating a central government to handle disputes between the members, but the powers don't give up many if any of their power to the central government. On the surface, this often resembles the Federation, but the difference is in the power of the central government compared to its member systems. A Feudal State with a strong central leader who manages to consolidate power can become a Federation . . . or an Empire; a Federation or Empire that cedes a lot of authority to its member systems can evolve over time into a Feudal State.

Open warfare between two powers inside the Feudal State happens on a regular basis while the weak central government is powerless to stop the infighting – or can but doesn't care enough or want to, for whatever reasons.

Examples: The Padashah Empire of Dune; Earth under the present-day United Nations.


The Refugees
Let's face it: Bad stuff happens, usually to good people. Natural disasters or wars can displace potentially billions of people, forcing them to live in starships, typically starships that were never meant for long-term habitation far from planets.

The Refugees generally come from one of the other factions originally, typically an Empire, Federation, Feudal State, or Merchant State. As such, their internal politics generally resemble those of their parent faction. Refugees often come under the protection of a faction of Space Knights, who serve to keep the people from rioting – and from starvation. Sometimes, these Space Knights were the military of their home culture; other times, the Space Knights have 'adopted' the Refugees.

Examples: the Vidians, Star Trek: Voyager; the rag-tag fleet carrying the survivors of the Twelve Colonies of Man in Battlestar Galactica (both versions).


The Assimilators
"From this day forth your culture will adapt to service ours. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated."

Although not the first, the above quote from the Borg sum up the role of the Assimilators quite nicely. This faction exists to expand their own holdings at the expense of other races, not through conquest or extermination but by actively converting the bodies of other species to their needs, either turning them into their kind or using them as incubators.

While several examples have hive minds, this is not an absolute. Because of their nature, Assimilators are almost never the good guys. At best, they're a force of nature.

A variation of the Assimilators is the Destroyers. While Assimilators seek to use other species for their own ends, the Destroyers are much more nihilistic. As their name implies, Destroyers want to eliminate everything not them.

Examples: The Borg, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager; the Xenomorphs, Alien franchise; the Brood from Marvel Comics, most notably in The X-Men and related titles. Destroyer examples are the Cylons (original Battlestar Galactica) and Marvel's Annihilation Wave.
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Old 09-07-2018, 07:14 AM   #20
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Default Re: Space Opera Factions

Another reason to have a feudal state is slow communications, e.g. if you don't have FTL comms.

Quarians from Mass Effect is another example of Refugees and Fred Saberhagen's Berserkers books of Destroyers.
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