Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Death Bat Meanderings: Campaign ideas for Starfinder


As it turns out Destiny 2 day one patch was about 7 GB in size which meant I didn't have enough time to play it last night since it was too busy loading on the Playstation Network's notoriously slow upload rate. Sigh.

So here's a few random things!

Starfinder is pretty cool I've decided, but it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to use it. The game works well as a "fantasy D&D with the trappings of modern looking SF" but that's actually a genre that doesn't quite exist in the form Starfinder is pitching. The last time we saw anything like this it was Fantasy Flight's Dragonstar expansion for D20, and that was close to 15 years ago.

At some point I realized that if I treated Starfinder like the sequel to Spelljammer, but "far in the future" then it might start making more that end I worked up this crude premise, which I am now currently massaging in to a real campaign for future use:

Starfinder Campaign Premise:

The conquest of Pellamorda – the Star Empire of Corgastin Grace has spread throughout the Etherworlds, the region of space which has over many years grown to encompass most of what was once called Wild Space or Chaos Space. The Star Empire is dominated by a confederation of four species, including the Wysentrien Elves. The emperor is the Immortal Astrokan, undying ruler of the Etherworlds of Corgastin Grace.

Pellamorda is a nondescript world of pre-tech societies which were locked in a conflict between good and evil. Lord Vathamre, a disciple of chaos and son of demons had uncovered an ancient artifact called the Star Crystal, a device which granted immense power and insight. The device, I turns  out, was also coveted by Astrokan, and his stellar navy was sent to recover it….and in the process they laid waste to Pellamorda and enslaved the world.

Five years in to the occupation of Pellamorda, the Coalition of Independent Worlds launched a covert operation to free Pellamorda and learn if there was any way to destroy the Star Crystal….a team of elite agents were sent to explore the mysteries of how one of the Infinite Sphere’s most powerful artifacts cam to rest on a remote world of completely nondescript nature…..

Tying it to Keepers of Lingusia:

This campaign takes place in 3503 AW and Lingusia is a remote backwater world! The last time wild space was visited in Lingusia (at the heart of Chaos Space) was in roughly 2090 AW, during the Age of Strife. This early era was a period of expansionism for the arcane elves known as the Naelythians, noted for their deep blue skin. Other entities of the era vied for power in the dawn of space exploration which was driven purely by magic. It was not until events which took place between 2090 AW and the present (3503 AW, the Era of the Warlords) that any of the denizens of Lingusia would be exposed to the stellar culture of blended technology and magic which arose over the following fifteen centuries.

In this time, the Naelythian empire rose and fell and now exists as outlier colonies in the Outer Expanse of the galaxy. The development of more sophisticated FTL drives which did not require magicians as human batteries led to a dramatic shift in the power structure of the universe, and eventually the need to navigate from one system to the next via the use of the etheric crystal spheres became relic technology. As the first worlds to develop true technology ascended in to space, the power dynamic shifted, and by 2500 AW as time is reckoned in the Hyrkanian Empire the era of old wild space was a lost memory. A thousand years later the Star Empire of Corgastin Grace has risen to power, obliterating dozens of other contenders in the process. At this time, Lingusia remains a forgotten system in an obscure corner of the galaxy, but –as with Pellamorda—it is only a matter of time before Astrokan turns to it to loot the world of its ancient relics as well.

In this era, Lingusia is clearly evident as a construct world: it's immense flat plane (more closely resembling a slightly rounded object like a glass token) is evidence of immense construction by cosmic beings capable of constructing whole worlds, and is key to the mystery in its origins as to who built it and why. When scholars of the Empire or the Coalition at last take notice, then it may indeed pose a grave threat if they learn of the true nature of the "planet" as the prison-construct housing a dozen primordial cosmic entities called the Skaeddrath.

By this era, the old gods of Lingusia have gone through a period of cosmic transformation, becoming far less like the humanoids they created and populated the planet with. The enigma of this transformation is part of the mystery, for to some it seems that the gods themselves are becoming not unlike the Skaeddrath they were once jailers to. Should the Empire seek to conquer Lingusia, it may have an unexpected fight on its hands...

Anyway, by doing it this way I manage to keep continuity with what has come before in the campaign and also place it contextually in the lengthy documented history of my most venerable setting (Lingusia), in a timeline that won't even remotely interfere with the ongoing fantasy campaigns set in the 2090s while at the same time getting a chance to revisit, potentially, the Warlords Era of the 3500s.

Ironically it's not actually "out of canon" for me to do this. Technically my first weird Science Fantasy games in Lingusia took place in 1984-1985ish when I ran a series of games in which the intrepid adventurers of the time (including my sister's rogue Wormi) were dealing with space raiders from at least five hundred years in the future, coming to Lingusia from a time when high tech spaceships were normal. It was never clearly established if the future of Lingusia included SF trappings when I ran that campaign but it was clear they were aliens who wanted to harvest the past for their diabolical interests. One of the byproducts of that campaign was the implication that doppelganers were actually aliens trapped on Lingusia (a nod to my appreciation for the shapeshifting wraiths of the Rom comic). I'd later also work out that the mind flayers (hyshkorrid) were very much in the same boat, aliens trapped on Lingusia (by design or accident has never been revealed). 

When Spelljammer came out I loved the concept but had to assume that the campaign I had run years earlier was either an anomaly, or some weird timeline, or that it was just a mystery to be resolved at a future date. I now feel kind of like maybe, perhaps, Starfinder provides a great way to revisit that conceptual space and also expand upon it, as well as providing some "closure" to the mystery of the relic-stealing future space pirates from that particular campaign!  

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