Back in the day, Eamon, Colin and I did spend some time discussing the concepts a long time ago but it’s clear that we had divergent ideas. Some of these were because we knew too much (when you mix biologists and physicists and try to make a far-future sci-fi setting) and some of it was because we were simply different people. I wasn’t entirely happy with their vision of ‘alien races’ and I feel they were equally dissatisfied with my ‘handwavium’ approach to theoretical physics.
Eamon emailed me with some questions about Frontier development as I see it.
Q: What do you see as the general Frontier missions for PCs?
There’s a reason why the Captain of the Explorer is an AI. He can’t beam down to the planet (Ho ho!) The following scenario threads immediately present themselves:
- mission ‘statements’ from Kumbu – this can cover trade, surveillance, colonisation
- SPR – humanitarian ‘rescue’ mission (from Saving Private Ryan)
- Free exploration (‘boldly going’)
- Escorts for other vehicles
- encounters with other vehicles, weird phenomena, unexpected aliens
- espionage/combat – very special circumstances, political maneuvering
Q: I was wondering if there’s room for freelancing, or at least hiring space on starships. It would give the possibility of being dropped off in a system with a few systemships, do you job and go home (save for Factor X which messes things up and produces Adventure!). Or dropped off at Station X, or on Planet Y, or Asteroid Z.
Of course, you don’t need to be a freelancer for these missions to occur. Modular starships could easily achieve the same effect.
I don’t recognise this as being part of the setting per se, due to the immense cost of running a starship and limited access to Keyhole drives. Another category could be similar to the ‘mission ship’ game we played briefly, the Halo effect…players find some ancient tech which is flippin’ class.
Also – remember that HU is post-scarcity. Trade exists but in a barter system. There is no universal credit, no gold-pressed latinum….
Q: Are starships so expensive to be solely owned by governments? Can conglomerates/individuals ever hope to own them?
There are no comglomerates or super-rich in HU. The USA, probably still the strongest of the non-HU Earth nations, could potentially field something to this effect.
Q: Are there any chances of encountering ‘rogue’ ships.
When you’re MEANT TO BE the only bipedal humanoid species that speaks your anglicised dialect of Swahili (or a Swahili-ised dialect of English) for 200 light years, every other ship is a potential rogue.
Q: Taking a step down, the same question for systemships – everything from tugs to shuttles to asteriod prospectors. Who/what can own them?
“Who moves the cargo around Frontier space?” would be another way of looking at it.
Specialists – single purpose AIs, a hundred times less capable than an Expert AI. Why would you put a short-lived human through months of babysitting a rock?
Q: Do we have spacestations, mining stations, research bases, space colonies…etc in Frontier?
Yes, but again, these are not commercial interests within HU space.
These are not, by any means, the one true way to play Frontier but they represent the feel that I am aiming for. I think the genre I’m aiming for is under-represented in gaming as well as elsewhere. With the recent release of Traveller by Mongoose Publishing and the Thousand Suns rules from Rogue Games, the ‘Imperial Sci-Fi’ genre is well represented. Frontier is, to a degree, post-Imperial, neo-liberal in politics, transhuman in terms of taking what I see as practical and almost renaissance in outlook.
This has clarified my understanding of Frontier a lot. I definitely see this being a good background that is partway between the “Imperial” games as you’ve mentioned and the Star Trek-type games of every-body-loves-humans.
There are some aspects of the Imperial settings that I find laughable. The proliferation of royal titles for one thing. To be honest, even the idea of an interstellar empire is laughable in some ways.
Star Trek, with a federation of allied-but-largely-independent worlds gets it closer.
Am I betraying my liberal democratic Humanist sympathies? Why, yes.