Setting constants

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kharnov
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Setting constants

Postby kharnov » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:28 am UTC

I've been wanting to set some fundamental constants for the game's setting. Basically, immutable things that establish the backbone of what exactly is going on in the Unvanquished universe, at least from the perspective of the humans. It's humanity that has the primary perspective on things, and the aliens are described from a second-person view. We're aware of the aliens from combat situations and generally observing them, but we don't know exactly where they came from, or what their goals are besides invasion.

Regarding this thread itself, whatever I say directly and whatever I agree to is canon. That means that you don't have to ask if your story can fit into the setting or not, as long as it follows the rules set by what is considered canonical. If something has not been discussed, then it's in a gray area and you should probably ask me first. In the odd circumstance that I directly say no to something, then it is not canon. Obviously, nothing is stopping you from writing something non-canonical for the heck of it, but it won't be authorized as part of the background story. The point of having a canon is that everything in the setting is consistent and the stories that we all write happen alongside each other.

The thread will be arranged by topics. You can tell that something is a topic if the title is in bold print. If I haven't covered something yet and you'd really like me to elaborate on it and give a verdict on the canon status, then post in this thread and I'll get back to you on it. Usually, I'll just be randomly posting topics whenever they come to mind, spontaneously. After a while, when enough things have been covered, they'll start being organized and they'll go onto the wiki.
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Re: Setting constants

Postby ViruS » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:37 am UTC

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/canon
TOO MANY CANON(s)! *head blows up*

I still don't get it.
My interperetation:
Para1 just means you're describing how the world is set
Para2 others can contribute to the story as long as it fits in
Para3 Subdivision or topics for organisation

And i don't get the rest...

Someone describe in a form where a 6-year old can understand pls?
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kharnov
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Re: Setting constants

Postby kharnov » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:40 am UTC

It's a set of rules and accepted facts. Of course, the one doing the accepting is me. I'm the one controlling what is canon or not.
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Re: Setting constants

Postby ViruS » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:58 am UTC

You sound like a tyrant. Matches your avatar all-right.
So basically, something like "human default bases must have high advance technology around them" while alien base "may have organic gunk mess everywhere"?
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kharnov
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Re: Setting constants

Postby kharnov » Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:28 am UTC

ViruS wrote:You sound like a tyrant. Matches your avatar all-right.


You can't decide setting canon by committee. It just doesn't work that way, and it's not something I want to go through again, especially after having dealt with it in the past. When it happens, you go off on all sorts of crazy tangents and people stop agreeing with each other, because there is an absurd number of ways to interpret something when it isn't part of the game itself, but rather in the expanded setting. I'm basically taking on the benevolent dictator role in regards to background material. Instead of telling people what to write directly, I'm giving a framework for them to work within. I care about defining structure more than direct control.

[HR][/HR]
Now, let's get back on topic. I'd like to address some things that have come up lately. Perhaps these topics will lead into further questioning, which I'm looking forward to.

Are the aliens related to each other?

No. They did not evolve together, and they do not share a planet of origin. All of the aliens were formerly their own independent organisms, and were likely not very much like their current forms at all. Of course, they were similar in shape, but their bodies and life cycles have been altered for purposes of combat. In the case of mobile aliens that serve as player classes, they are the attack forms. The aliens anchored to the ground serve as buildings. Some of these aliens, such as the acid tube and trapper, display features that were once part of their free-living forms, such as heads and vestigial limbs. Others, such as the egg, are further reduced from their previous forms for further efficiency, and function solely for a single purpose.

Implications:

  • The aliens have a similar biochemistry. Their nutritional needs are close enough to be compatible with each other, since the attack aliens can morph into larger forms, and the building aliens all utilize the same creep. Both classifications are linked to each other, because the egg feeds off the creep, and aliens grow inside the egg. Thus, it would logically follow that they all consume the same materials, or at least have adapted to do so. One notable exception that can be explored further is the overmind, since it does not require the creep to function, nor does it take up build points.
  • Something is controlling alien evolution. Obviously, something had to modify the aliens into their present state. Since the aliens all originated on different planets, something had to collect them together and begin the process of changing them. This is something I feel I'd like to leave as a mystery, because I don't feel that the aliens would feel as menacing if they had some sort of visible leader or command structure.
  • There may be other alien forms as of yet unseen. All of the aliens arose on different planets, and the alien swarm is clearly utilizing and modifying many different species. In the main game of Unvanquished, the aliens you are seeing might only be the ones from this region of the galaxy. Other alien forms might exist elsewhere, closer to the systems that the swarm originated from.
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Re: Setting constants

Postby Amazonian1515 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:08 pm UTC

Think Covenant from Halo, that have been surgically altered, except it wasn't surgery, it was scientific shizzle, like lasers and explosions.
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Re: Setting constants

Postby kharnov » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:30 pm UTC

What is the scale of the conflict?

I've been asked this on IRC by Timoteo: just how widespread is the warfare? One planet, a solar system, a galaxy? The answer is between the latter two. A couple of centuries before the present time in the game's setting, humanity expanded beyond our solar system, with the main settlements reaching out in a sphere of roughly 50 lightyears away from the sun. Due to travel times and the initially slow pace of interstellar travel, the most populated worlds are the ones closest to Earth. Naturally, this means that Earth has the highest population density, and several terraformed planets and moons in our own system have been extensively colonized.

Considering the broad scale of human expansion, and that the aliens are approaching from multiple directions, the conflict has affected dozens of worlds. Colonies on the fringe of human space have mostly been destroyed, and the ones that still exist are heavily militarized frontier worlds that have some sort of valuable resource, as the more marginal settlements have long been abandoned by refugees fleeing the invasion. However, if you look at it from a broader scale, the war has mostly been confined to the local cluster of stars, and definitely hasn't spread beyond our arm of the Milky Way.
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Re: Setting constants

Postby Ishq » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:11 pm UTC

Hm, some questions that will probably affect the backstory and the campaign (if we do one) more than anything:

What type of future are we in?
A utopia until we meet an alien invasion? A dystopia? Something in between?

What's the importance of Earth and where is the center of humanity?
Following up on the previous question, it makes sense that unless we are somehow living in a utopia, Earth's resources have been used up and Earth is nothing but a shadow of what it is now, a mere memory to all the current humans. A place of pilgrimage perhaps. Furthermore, as you stated that the humanity has expanded broadly, it would make more sense to have a more central capital, or hub.
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Re: Setting constants

Postby kharnov » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:20 am UTC

What type of future are we in? / What's the importance of Earth and where is the center of humanity?

The primary, developed worlds of humanity have progressed remarkably well over the centuries. Scientific advancement has reached an astounding level, and has accelerated due to the overwhelmingly large human population, with several trillion people spread out over a wide range of systems. Diseases from earlier in human history have been eradicated, and the new ones that come up from time to time are likewise disposed of in a matter of weeks, even days. With a combination of enhanced nutrition, freedom from disease, genetic modification, and advances in implantable electronics, the average human can live for well over a century, and even those living on poorly developed frontier worlds can reliably live to see 90. Those that can afford it can live for even longer, and it's not unheard of for the extremely wealthy to survive nearly indefinitely, regularly rejuvenated by organ transplantation and other enhancements. At that point, they tend to be extremely bored, having accumulated the experiences of several lifetimes. Others end up paranoid and surround themselves with scores of bodyguards, aware of the desirability of the immense inheritance that could be had by their heirs.

Human worlds are not kept together by a central government, due to the logistics involved. Space travel is inherently expensive, and it isn't instantaneous, meaning that the further one goes, the more of a communication lag there is. Instead of being bound to Earth, human worlds are organized in small clusters, with older colony systems taking on a leading role with regards to their less developed neighbors. Since there isn't direct, central control of every single system, conflicts occur from time to time. Full-blown planetary invasions are rare, with most warfare occurring in orbit. Considering that it is far easier and more efficient to annihilate urban settlements from orbit than landing troops, the mere presence of a warship above a world is often enough to make a planet capitulate to the demands of the aggressor. The more developed systems tend to have their own fleets of ships on regular patrol, keeping the inhabited planets safe from hostile forces, piracy, and the occasional stray asteroid. Distant frontier worlds are typically defenseless, and most of them make use of underground shelters to survive bombardments when they occur.

Going back to the importance of Earth, it's obviously the largest world, and the one that has been the most extensively mined. Since it doesn't have anything particularly interesting to extract from it anymore, the main function of Earth is to serve as a central government for the solar system and surrounding stars, such as Alpha Centauri and Sirius. Compared to the established colony worlds that possess their own spheres of influence, the one around Earth is enormous, due to the close dependency between those worlds and Earth during the early era of human expansion. Thus, our world is a major center of governance, but it isn't the only one, and holds no sway beyond twenty or so light years away. Powerful, distant systems such as Vega and Gamma Pavonis are often at odds with each other and will compete for resources to the point of conflict, but none would dare to invade worlds controlled by Earth, knowing the retribution would be immense. On the other hand, it would not be productive for Earth to expand further outwards, as it would take weeks to communicate with fleets on campaigns at that distance. Thus, there is a buffer zone between the central systems and the more distant worlds, kept neutral not by treaty, but by general acceptance of Earth's strength. Planets in the buffer zone are often hotbeds of piracy, taking advantage of the strict demilitarization there.

However, all of this begins to break down once the aliens invade. The most distant colonies are the first to go, and by the time their local government strongholds are notified of what has happened, the black masses begin to appear in the skies, raining spores from orbit. Entire worlds begin to be consumed, and frantic reports are sent inwards, spreading immense panic among human worlds. Complex alien life had not been encountered up until this point, and the hostile nature of the contact is enough to strike terror into the military forces of humanity, none of which had been prepared for a threat of this magnitude. Some of the formerly feuding systems quickly band together for mutual defense, and colonists are evacuated to the more populated worlds. Other worlds collapse under the strain of attempting to manage their local catastrophes, unable to provide for the massive influx of refugees and the severe political chaos.

Above all, Earth has gone silent. Formerly a stabilizing force in interstellar human politics, the full resources of the central government are instead mobilized to evacuate all worlds under the domain of Earth, to further strengthen the inner systems and prepare for the worst. Being able to cope with the mass migration, the old worlds of humanity find themselves with immense manpower, and when the opportunity strikes, the old civilian government that has reigned for centuries is immediately seized under the iron grip of a military dictatorship, the swift transition fueled by the immense fear of the invading alien forces.

Yet, this is not the story of Earth.

The frontier worlds that have survived the initial invasion have met the enemy, and they know of the immense threat they face. Isolated from Earth and former trade routes traveling inwards, they are forced to band together, forming a scattered, hollow sphere of alliances and mutual defense pacts at the fringe of human colonization. New supply lines are created, and shared military intelligence enables the rapid coordination of efforts to meet the enemy where it is poised to strike the hardest. A range of assorted weapon designs are shared throughout the growing force of the frontier military, ranging from old, reliable standbys to improvised equipment devised out of sheer necessity, and the occasional high-tech design smuggled in from the core worlds in more peaceful times. Unable to meet the urgent manpower demands required to face the constant onslaught, new soldiers are rapidly cloned from genetically modified stock, mass-produced in a matter of months. Shipped out by the tens of thousands to where they are needed most, the fearless clone troopers form the front line of defense for humanity, tirelessly fighting to save the frontier from oblivion.

Stepping off warp receiver pads by the dozens, gripping their standard armaments and equipped with environmental suits, their homogeneity is the new face of humanity. No longer Arcturans or Capellans, they are the Unvanquished.
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Re: Setting constants

Postby KenuR » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:22 am UTC

kharnov wrote:What is the scale of the conflict?

I've been asked this on IRC by Timoteo: just how widespread is the warfare? One planet, a solar system, a galaxy? The answer is between the latter two. A couple of centuries before the present time in the game's setting, humanity expanded beyond our solar system, with the main settlements reaching out in a sphere of roughly 50 lightyears away from the sun. Due to travel times and the initially slow pace of interstellar travel, the most populated worlds are the ones closest to Earth. Naturally, this means that Earth has the highest population density, and several terraformed planets and moons in our own system have been extensively colonized.

Considering the broad scale of human expansion, and that the aliens are approaching from multiple directions, the conflict has affected dozens of worlds. Colonies on the fringe of human space have mostly been destroyed, and the ones that still exist are heavily militarized frontier worlds that have some sort of valuable resource, as the more marginal settlements have long been abandoned by refugees fleeing the invasion. However, if you look at it from a broader scale, the war has mostly been confined to the local cluster of stars, and definitely hasn't spread beyond our arm of the Milky Way.


Definitely one planet. Here're a few reasons for this.
1. The aliens are rather dumb creatures with minimal social capabilities and technological advancements which would most likely mean that the aliens are confined to a single planet.
2. If the humans supposedly were able to expand beyond our solar system and were fighting the aliens on a large scale, it wouldn't make much sense for them to be using such outdated and arguably useless weapons like the rifle and shotgun.

To be honest, I'm not really sure that such a small game as Unvanquished needs a deep, intricate backstory. The main thing to worry about is how to make it more fun and if you need to give up some of the story elements in order to achieve that then that's what you should do. The worst thing you could do is to base the game around the backstory and not the other way around.

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