The basic setting assumes that players are highly skilled, highly motivated members of the Explorer division of Human Unity, a ‘federation’-alike government. Their job is to make contact, explore gaseous anomalies and try not to get killed in the process.
Human Unity – the Human ’empire’ based upon very liberal concepts and including humanity and sentient/sapient synthetic intelligences called Experts. Natural humans are definitely transhuman but not generally posthuman – this may start to occur within the scope of the game. While Human Unity may have the core tenets of life, fraternity, equality, freedom – it is made up of billions of individuals.
FTL – based upon a discovered wormhole network which permits FTL travel though travel TO the wormhole within a solar system can take a long time. The key to wormhole travel was ‘bought’ by Human Unity from their first contact, an alien race known to Human Unity as ‘The Traders’. There were a lot of items and concepts traded and the science used to catapult humanity beyond the solar system.
Aliens – they’re as alien as I can imagine them. i describe a few. In the end, we can see the immense diversity on this one planet so there will likely be a considerable amount of convergent evolution though there are no ‘humans with forehead ridges’ or ‘dark elf analogues’. There are alien races and one is even reputedly ‘humanoid’ (and the Traders dealt with us using ‘androids’) but for the most part they are as alien as this biologist can make them (while still making them ‘possible’)
Science – this is a tricky one. I’m not a physicist but I’m basing it on ‘firm’ physics. Sure – we have FTL (which immediately makes it not HARD science) but other areas are progressions as I see them. Some areas are vague i.e. I’m not going to talk about memory capacity, processor speeds because I’ve read sci-fi where these were defined and they were awfully dated within a decade (2300AD and High Colonies spring to mind). There’s some science I’m deliberately leaving out because I don’t think it’s possible within the time and ethics constraints of the setting but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Combat – ship/ship combat is very deprecated though there are obviously ship-borne weapons. The ability of a stellar society to hit planets with asteroids and the harm that a missile at even low relativistic speeds would do to a craft cannot be underestimated. In other words by the time you detect it, it’s likely too late. Combat like this is handled by computers – thinking beings that can think down to the billionth of a second easily. It’s not going to be a naval battle in space.
Cross posted from RPG.net
Regarding relativistic missiles, I think that these are pretty much unlikely, as the targets would only have to dodge a little bit for the fast-moving missile to completely miss.
Weapon-firing missiles like in 2300AD and TNE are a better bet, IMHO.
Relativistic missiles are devastatingly effective against vehicles which cannot dodge or can’t detect it. I’m becoming unconvinced of the efficacy of space weapons – what would these weapon-firing missiles fire at their targets?
The problem with relativistic missiles is they have a lot of inertia – so turning is hard. They would either have to have a lot of space to ‘get up to speed in’, or a powerful drive that somehow doesn’t turn most of the missile to pulpy junk as it accelerates up to speed.
With the former getting good targeting information is difficult, as you have to be very far away from your target when you fire the missile. With the latter the target may be aware that it is being targeted, as the firing ship is (relatively) near, and so may begin evasive manoeuvres.
Again, turning isn’t much of an issue when your object moves in a predictable fashion.
Any sensor data at 1 AU out is going to be 8 minutes out of date so it’s not much use for fighting anyway. Best tactic is always going to be avoidance. Get within the range of conventional armament and you’re toast anyway.