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Old 01-27-2021, 12:30 PM   #11
lordabdul's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Default Re: How to best use this fun setting.

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
The problem with THS is that it often tries to blend into a utopian setting, which is not ideal for adventuring (which is also why most adventures end up in space).
While you make some good points, I don't necessarily agree with your overall conclusion.

First, I don't see THS as a utopian setting (it even says so in the corebook introduction!), although I haven't read many of the sourcebooks so maybe the writing varies on that topic. What THS is not is some kind of semi-post-apocalyptic setting where climate change has devastated whole chunks of the planet and displaced billions of people. It doesn't mean climate change wouldn't have caused some serious trouble that needed to be dealt with. There's a lot of room to tweak the timeline and specific regions of specific countries to your liking if you want. Take any Cyberpunk setting and what matters more is what's going on in your city with social issues, weird drugs, powerful corporations, and so on -- whether Florida is still livable or not is a lot less relevant unless you actually leave the city (YMMV... all my Cyberpunk gaming tended to be limited to the PCs' city and its immediate surroundings).

Second, I don't agree that the Ares Conspiracy would be more "plausible" if they had been all hunted down and captured or killed. In fact, that sounds too simplistic for my tastes -- I would tend to think that some internal factions in some corporations might have been sympathetic to them and helped (remember that those scientists were part of those corporations in many cases). Plus, in real life, rebellious groups are hard to wipe out completely, small details and coincidental events can make a big difference, etc... I'm not really interested in debating this either way, my point is just that I find absolutes less plausible than shades-of-gray and unresolved events, and that even if you changed the timeline to be more clear-cut, I'm not sure it would really change much for the game's appeal in the end. At the very least, being "more like this other game" isn't a great way to find your place on the market.

Third, there are many bleak settings out there. Not every futuristic setting has to be bleak -- some people play RPGs for the escapism you know :) I don't think that it affects the setting's popularity either. For instance, The Expanse has been quite popular this past couple years (relatively to the popularity of hard-sci-fi in general), and it is very close to THS' setting, minus the transhumanism and rogue AIs. In The Expanse, none of our current preoccupations (pandemics, climate change, white supremacy, misinformation, etc.) are mentioned and, to some degree, Earth is doing quite good (to the point that Martians consider Earthers to be wimpy cuddled lazy bums who are paid to sit around all day by their socialist governments). There's still plenty of room for corrupt politicians, greedy corporations, and everything else you need to adventure. Although yes, in the case of The Expanse, a lot of it happens in space. But hey, "Space" is also in THS' title so I don't see this as a bug. To me it's a feature -- it's like hard-sci-fi Traveller. It's what I like about this setting.

Last edited by lordabdul; 01-27-2021 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 01-28-2021, 01:07 AM   #12
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Re: How to best use this fun setting.

In The Expanse, people on the dole are considered so badly off that threatening to put people on the dole is a way to maintain discipline. The Martians also use the fact that Earth is suffering from environmental degradation as one of their justifications for having contempt for them. The fact that there is a secretive group who commits genocide against 1.5 million people of the colony on Eros by exposing them to what are effectively alien nanoweapons also suggests that the setting is quite dystopian.

If you want THS as a positive setting, just call it an alternative future, with a divergence around 2001. The negative events in our recent history are avoided and/or mitigated, and the timeline progresses in an optomistic trajectory where mainframe computers are capable of supporting digital intelligences. In a hard science future that reflects the real world though, things would be much less likely to be positive.

Last edited by AlexanderHowl; 01-28-2021 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 01-28-2021, 05:07 PM   #13
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Default Re: How to best use this fun setting.

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
In The Expanse, (...) the setting is quite dystopian.

If you want THS as a positive setting, just call it an alternative future
I frankly don't see The Expanse as dystopian because AFAIR the main themes are classic adventure themes (friendship, honour, perseverance, loyalties, etc.). I don't see THS as "positive" either, there's a lot of terrible stuff happening.

Frankly, when I started reading The Expanse, I was like "this feels like THS minus the AIs and the transhumanism". Take that as you will in terms of how my THS games feel like (sprinkle a bit of Ghost in the Shell and Altered Carbon on top for those missing parts), and what that means for the possible popularity of the setting as I see and play it.

Last edited by lordabdul; 01-28-2021 at 05:11 PM.
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Old 01-31-2021, 11:58 AM   #14
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Re: How to best use this fun setting.

Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
I feel this setting has been done in by Hard Sci-Fi mavens gatekeeping. Sure it's a great hang spot for them but it's a public playground.

What do we need to get this setting some more attention?
Can I turn the question around? You seem to like many things about Transhuman Space, but you frequently want to change it, and the things you suggest don't seem, to me, to fit it very well.

Can you describe what kind of THS-resembling setting would suit you? What are the things that you would like to change?

Ignore the "hard science" issue for now. What makes something "hard SF" is very dependent on the audience, as well as the content.
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