Sunday, October 21, 2012

Strange New Worlds, Aliens, Starships and Blasters, Oh My!

So I guess that I'm going to go ahead and design a campaign and try to attract a handful of players after all... Since this is something I need to want to run, it's going to be Sci Fi, Space Adventure with strange new worlds, aliens, starships and blasters, oh my!

Working from the outside in is the classic mistake; I will, however, do an overview, a 'State of the Galaxy', but otherwise my motto is "Go Small or Don't Go!" 8-P

Let me begin by saying that there doesn't seem to be any hard evidence for spacefaring Alien civilizations in the Galaxy at this time or in recent history. There are three good explanations for this-

1) Life and Intelligence (of which there's bugger off down here! 8-) are vanishingly rare- We may be alone in a sterile, empty Milky Way... and that thought makes me very sad.

2) The Galaxy is a very dangerous place and we got lucky in being overlooked and passed by. The Powers That Be routinely wipe out younger species to eliminate competition, but mostly keep quiet and to themselves. This is both heart-stoppingly exciting and depressing!

3) The Milky Way is in fact well-kept real estate, with parks and gardens. The Elder Species live quietly within their means and leave fallow worlds on which The Younger Species can be born, develop and mature.

No. 1 means, AFAIC, that we need to get busy and fill up the Milky Way, terraforming and speciating until we have plenty of strange new worlds to play in and we *are* the aliens!

No. 2 means that we must be a force for good and bring about No. 3! (although No. 3 is boring, it would be a good place to live in 8-) In the 'Rot and Ruin' of worlds there would be plenty of call for terraforming murdered worlds and for speciating to fill every niche...

Or the worlds could be a mix, No. 3 falling apart into No. 2 and No. 2 leading to No. 1... our own small arm could be 1/2 and we could be bordering No. 3! In some ways, this is the story of Traveller RPG, the 1st and 2nd Imperiums leading to the 3rd, and the Spinward Marches being a dangerous periphery of a peaceful interstellar state.

The State of Our Spiral Arm- Locally, patchy with war-wrecked stars and persistent genocide; there is a small chance of life and technical civilization. One association of kind and gentle souls, stern and powerful,
 has started to roll up this wilderness, somewhere far away, but Humanity has come onto the scene as the new-kid on the Block and it's a dangerous, run-down neighborhood where we live.

In the 2020s we found and reverse-engineered an alien space-craft which had crashed into the Gulf of Mexico 73 centuries ago during a battle in LEO between two factions in a terminal interstellar war which destroyed the previous local Powers That Were/Big Bads. The USG took the lead in space and beyond our solar system, using the tech advantage as well to arrest a half-century of reversals for the Once Again Superpower.

I owe something about the reverse engineered tech, but it's not super-important; there are a hundred worlds, an active 'grave-digging' industry licensed by the USG but prone to cheats and smugglers. The world strangely doesn't like Uncle Sugar hoarding all the goodies, so that's very much still an issue, and even within the US things aren't that great... the 'Two Cultures' problem is festering in the Southwest and corporations are still people; maybe this is the Corporate States of America (the South, or rather southern Planter-style entitled elites, will rise again!) and an undeclared civil war has been brewing up for a generation and change? 


I have the bare bones of a setting, need to 'Go Small' now and design the starting point, a colony and world with people and places, local color, problems and possibilities, plus try to 'lay off the politics' or else peeps won't want to play... this should be fantastic escape from the horrible realities of our time and place.

(OB+! 8-)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Re-posting my Everyday Weirdness-ness...

Origami Love-Letter Duck

By Vincent L. Cleaver

You folded it into the origami bird, because you were never going to send it... Not a crane, but a duck, and set it at the corner of the desk, where it could paddle around the open, uncluttered margin. You started to write on the back of some hard-copy, hard at work on finishing that half-finished story that’s been half-finished for a month, and getting bigger all the time, when you saw that it was gone.

It must have fallen of the edge, and you looked around, vowing for the nth time to ‘clean this place up,’ but didn't see it. Then you heard the quack.

You were sure you must have been hearing things, when you heard another quack, and this time it wasn't in your head. That was a real, ‘why are you ignoring me’ type quack, with a rude squirt for emphasis. You looked over by the door, and there it was, the origami love-letter duck, a little nervous roll of paper crapped out behind it, the holey edge of some old dot-matrix paper, tore off and rolled up, like you do. The origami duck is a much more complicated fold now, with feet and wings, and it flaps and waggles its neck at you, then turns and waddles off.

Not sure if you’re really seeing what you think that you’re seeing, you follow, down the hallway, and out the door, and down the walk to the street. The origami duck looks over it’s angular shoulder and razzes you with a blat of quick quacks, more Donald Duck than the real deal, and it happily lays on the flap-pity flap paper soles of its webbed feet, run-waddling away from you.

Now you know where its going, and you've got a decision to make, or revisit, rather; one you've been putting off for a long time, until this little bastard forced your hand.


Slowly Thinks The Tree

By Vincent L. Cleaver

A seed unzips and happiness is found.
The Sun that I seek, warms the ground.
Up, up, up I grew, so many seasons.
Of why I did this, so many reasons.
I thought of several, as time the Earth kept.
But I forgot when winter came and I slept.
I added rings to my trunk and grew.
Tall I was- to be tree was all that I knew.
I felt the Earth and Sky, felt the rain,
From my roots to my crown, and then felt pain.
Down I fell, and machines my limbs took.
Today I am changed; today I am book.


Bubble In The Clouds

By Vincent L. Cleaver

It was like a jungle in a bubble, floating in the atmosphere of Venus. Hannah could hear her sister Melody singing some song she’d learned from the crew of Columbia, about a bird of peace looking for a place to rest. It was pretty, but even though Melody sang very well, she did not fill it with the same longing that Chief Petty Officer Logan had brought to his performance, three nights ago. Huck wondered who or what the man had been thinking of while he sang.

Huck found a likely place in the fern-like undergrowth and let herself fall over backwards, her arms outstretched. She moved her arms and legs in a fit of vandalism, making a green snow-angel. The minty and green smell was glorious after long weeks of being cooped up in the Good Old Girl, who sometimes smelled like a wet dog, or an outhouse.

Heibai wandered over to her.

“You’re getting dirty-” He yelped as she sat up, grabbed his hand, and pulled him down. From a ways off Jules called out, “We’ve got to work on your stance, Little Master!”

Heibai fell on top of her. Huckleberry, Hannah, Ming Mu, ‘Bright Eyes’; she had many names to him. He relaxed and breathed in deep. Her smell, and the green scents. Heibai found that he had closed his eyes. He opened them again, to look down into hers.

“You know, people are going to talk...” His lips brushed hers, and she opened them to him. She tasted like honeysuckle, or maybe whatever Huckleberries tasted like. They broke off, and she smiled up at him.

“I kinda wanted to do that for a while...”

“Me, too.”

“But I thought that the whole tomboy sharpshooter thing put you off?”

“Oh, yes. Absolutely, it did,” he breathed, eyes wide and hamming it up to gently mock her. She gave him a knuckle in the ribs. But it was a ghost of the one she’d given him for the last stupid thing he’d done, and he only pretended to be hurt.

“Do you want me to kiss it, and make it better?”

“That would be good,” he whispered. “But I know a secret.” She leaned closer to whisper back.

“You do? Wanna share it with me?”

“You’re ticklish...”

“The little rodent told you!”

“No, but you did, just now,” he said, and fell to tickling.

He had her shrieking with laughter in no time at all, and a little later they lay side by side, out of breath. Heibai sat up and saw that he had a good view of the setting sun. It was in the East, of course. He took her hand, pulling her up beside him, and pointed without saying a word. He was holding his breath. All of his nerve endings seemed to be in his arm... She snuggled up next to him, and life was good. Mankind was not in danger of being wiped out by petty disputes or by genocidal aliens, one of whom was a childhood friend. No, not just at this moment.