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Old 01-10-2016, 07:59 PM   #1
Arith Winterfell
 
Join Date: May 2014
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Default Minimal Presence of Starships

I'm working on a sci-fi setting that I thought I would share. I'm generally looking at the idea of a space setting with little to no starship use. Here are some general elements of the setting.

Hyperspace exists, but is lethal to all biological life and takes months between stars. As a result humanity uses AI and robot/droid manned starships to start new colonies, especially to set up new receiving "Quantum Distortion Gates".

Quantum Distortion gates are the main way people travel from star system to star system (or even just to other worlds within a star system). It's a series of arch like structures which when activated quantum teleports anything within to the targeted destination by quantum jumping it from one point to another (so there is no disassemble your atoms teleporting involved in that sense). Some distance is a factor in that one might need to pass through several star systems before reaching your final destination by making multiple jumps.

The downside of quantum distortion jumps is that it creates residual distortion in everything that jumps. Fortunately this can be fixed by simply waiting a number of days (or weeks) so the residual distortion can dissipate. This results in travelers having to stay at different worlds at different stages of their journey in order to shed built up distortion each time. This works nicely as it allows port cities to have that "mixed alien bar" feel of many different kinds of creatures mingling.

Interstellar communication is built on the same principle technology by using a quantum distortion to send a pulse of information or data using a smaller more compact version of the machinery than is required for transporting cargo or people.

Other elements of the setting are largely "Human" aliens in the form of humanity using advanced genetic engineering (akin to Transhuman Space) to diversify itself over the centuries resulting in a variety of "aliens" species which result from colonies and worlds which developed in diverse ways.

There are two (so far) actual alien races, the nicknamed "Greys" and the Tselons. The Tselons are a race that developed along bio-technology for the most part instead of mechanical technology, building living ships and the like. This means in order to set up new colonies on other worlds they had to send ships by normal space on long voyages resulting in extremely slow expansion.

When they met humanity, they had already developed their own version of quantum distortion tech, but realized humanity had expanded much faster than them. As a result the Tselons moved to seize human colonies in order to expand their own region of control. So they basically hacked the quantum distortion gates on various worlds, and dropped in countless troops, seizing colonies for themselves. Human resistance fought back, and eventually after a long and bloody war fought over different worlds humanity learned the location of the Tselon homeworld and used hacking in turn to send hydrogen bombs to devastate the Tselon world.

The "Greys" are an enigmatic race which secretly manipulated the Human-Tselon war so as to do maximum damage to both sides. They are highly manipulative, very psionic, and work with layers within layers of conspiracy.

So that's a general run down of the setting. Are there any parts that don't make sense, or need to be reworked to make more logical sense? Does the overall lack of starships in a sci-fi setting make sense given the technology of the setting?
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Old 01-10-2016, 08:23 PM   #2
AOTA
 
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

I like this. Really takes the focus off ships and allows for much more roleplaying possibilities.
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Old 01-10-2016, 08:31 PM   #3
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

Peter F Hamilton has a few books in similar settings if you want somewhere to raid for ideas and other view points
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Old 01-10-2016, 10:11 PM   #4
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

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Originally Posted by AOTA View Post
Really takes the focus off ships
NOOOOOOOOOO!!! WHAT MADNESS IS THIS???
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Old 01-11-2016, 08:01 AM   #5
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

Nice! I like it. Might steal it.

I've only read the first book, Terms of Enlistment so far, but the premise sounds kinda-sorta similar to the Frontlines novels by Marko Kloos. No Greys yet, though.
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Old 01-11-2016, 08:44 AM   #6
ericthered
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

I like the mechanism you use to remove starships. Of course, the ships aren't so much gone as they are moved to the background. Starships can still feature quite prominently in the setting, they just don't have humans on them.

Do gates need to be paired, or can any gate go to any other gate? If you want 'distance' to be an issue, either physical distance between gates is an issue, or gates need to be paired from their moment of creation (which makes expansion happen just a little more slowly).

The greys seem a little out of place. I'm not seeing how they maintain their mysteriousness when they have to travel like everyone else. Unless they have a major major advantage like being able to sneak in people in the middle of shipments or access to working FTL that doesn't kill them. Yes, they have psionics, but that only goes so far when you have a major choke-point in travel.

The core idea is really quite good, but I don't think I'd play this particular setting. The exclusive (heavy is fine, exclusive is a little cinema) biotech race and the psi throw me off a little.
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Old 01-11-2016, 09:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

I like this concept too. Vehicles are a huge problem to GM in GURPS in my opinion. Putting most of the action off ships is a great idea. And your political/war set up is neat. I like it.

Good luck with the setting.
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Old 01-11-2016, 09:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Do gates need to be paired
The writeup speaks of "hacking" gates to receive undesirable shipments (like invading troops), so I'd assume not.

Quote:
I'm not seeing how they maintain their mysteriousness when they have to travel like everyone else.
Suppose they don't allow travel to their systems, and maintain their own layover facilities in ports, rarely associating with others. Little is known about their internal political structure or goals. Traders are usually making money for imports (if any) by shrewd dealing and information advantage in the outside economy, rather than by exporting their own products, so economic intelligence is also largely guesswork. That would make them "enigmatic" even with the same tech.
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Old 01-11-2016, 11:49 AM   #9
cosmicfish
 
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

First off, all kidding aside, it sounds like a good setting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arith Winterfell View Post
The downside of quantum distortion jumps is that it creates residual distortion in everything that jumps. Fortunately this can be fixed by simply waiting a number of days (or weeks) so the residual distortion can dissipate.
While I understand the reason, I dislike the explanation - when you combine "quantum" with time scales of "days (or weeks)" it feels wrong to me. I would think there are other ways to enforce delays.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arith Winterfell View Post
There are two (so far) actual alien races, the nicknamed "Greys" and the Tselons.
With the Tselons... what happened to them? Are they extinct? Are they a broken race surviving on the fringes of human space and plotting their revenge? Have the survivors integrated into human society? You provided a past but no present.

With the "Greys"... how are they pulling this off? There are only two known alien races, and one of them just engaged in "long and bloody war", how are the Greys not under the proverbial microscope? Heck, just being actually alien should make them the focus of a heck of a lot attention. I would consider changing their nature so that they are less obvious - perhaps they supplanted an isolated colony and are passing themselves off as gene-modified humans with an unusual religion (no medical testing or care, etc.). Or something. They just seem too exposed for the role you want them to play.

And for both of them, how do the races' spheres of influence meet? Do the Greys or Tselons have contact with additional races, and if not, why not? If you have a human-only universe then you have the human sphere and "here there be dragons", but if you have a multi-racial universe then you need to consider where that boundary of ignorance lies, and why.

Last edited by cosmicfish; 01-11-2016 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 01-11-2016, 11:53 AM   #10
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Default Re: Minimal Presence of Starships

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
Suppose they don't allow travel to their systems, and maintain their own layover facilities in ports, rarely associating with others. Little is known about their internal political structure or goals. Traders are usually making money for imports (if any) by shrewd dealing and information advantage in the outside economy, rather than by exporting their own products, so economic intelligence is also largely guesswork. That would make them "enigmatic" even with the same tech.
That sounds like the kind of diplomatic exchange that no government would tolerate even with an expectation of peace, much less coming out of a war with the only other known alien race in existence. I mean, they may be standoffish and withdrawn, but if we cannot go to their home worlds, why would we let them come to ours? What if they turn out to be bad guys too - humanity would be completely exposed with no recourse!
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