Sunday, February 2, 2014


Hey.  I'm getting this done piece by piece, but here is the first good chapter I think of it.  This and further installments are going to be my notes for running the thing.  I'm going to start top-down, starting with the Galaxy down to the civilizations themselves.  We start with a galaxy in order to help set up the threats and issues surrounding the civilizations that'll be created later on.
Let me know whatcha think, I'm open to all sorts of input.  I'll eventually turn this into an actual download or something, but in the mean time, enjoy!


What's in a Galaxy?

Being vast assemblages of stars, planets and other phenomena, creating a Galaxy to set your game can be intimidating.  This step is going to be important because it'll define what are the limits and parameters for how civilizations interact in your game.  There are some big questions to ask here.  The answers will help drive the creative process when we get to Civilization Creation.

The Fermi Paradox is going to be of great use to start out here.  Since we have veered strongly into Science Fiction, the Fermi Paradox has the question that has most often produced interesting Science Fiction worlds before.  The Fermi Paradox points out that if Life can arise in multiple places and times in the universe, why haven't humans had any contact with them (at least at the time of this writing)?

Fermi proposal has garnered a variety of answers over the years.  Most of these answers, often in Science Fiction, can be of use when trying to think up what sort of galactic situation your civilizations are dealing with.

The questions we are looking to answer are:

  • *What limits are there for species?  How many different kinds of civilizations are there?
  • *What keeps Civilizations from contacting those without space travel?
  • *How does space travel work?  Are there any legal or technical restrictions?
  • *What sort of problems does the Galaxy face at large?
  • *What is expected of contact between Civilizations?

FERMI PARADOX SOLUTION ONE: It is a Dark Age, After the Fall of the Empire of Man...

Humanity is only the intelligent species that evolves space travel.  A human empire then arose throughout the Galaxy, a grand civilization that spanned from end of the galaxy to the other.  In this solution, the Civilizations being created arise after the Human Empire has fallen.

Its a dark age, and much technology has faded from view and use.  Perhaps some techno-science cults hide out, or found new empires in the ruins.  Like the fall of Rome, its a time for new powers to rise.  And perhaps the thing that caused the downfall, be it a human invention or something else, still lurks in the space lanes, ready to haunt the next group of civilizations that try to make a go at Galactic Empire.

Inspirations: Foundation, Dune

FERMI PARADOX SOLUTION TWO: The Elder Races have long gone...

We stand in the footprints of giants.  Or tentacle prints, take your pick.  Ancient alien races once dominated the galaxy.  What they did had long reaching effects, including the races that emerged now.  Although the ancients are gone, they protected the younger races, keeping them from harm or interacting with one another until most recently.

You can go a couple of directions with this.  The Ancient Ones can still be around, with their own bizarre plots and goals for the younger races.  Or they've all left the Galaxy for the younger races to inherit.  These races could be responsible for creating the younger races, altering them or causing all sorts of destruction.

Inspirations: Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Starcraft


Spacefaring civilizations belong to a united coalition, which protects more primitive civilizations until they are ready to join the greater community.  This coalition keeps the peace between civilizations.

But what about those the Coalition doesn't allow to join it?  The myriad of civilizations that can't join form dangerous border regions, sometimes causing wars.  And sometimes, a member-civilization will get kicked out because some rule it violated.  The Coalition has to punish anyone who'd dare defy it, but sometimes this can create enemies out of neighbors.

Inspirations: Star Trek, Old Man's War series, The Rookie


This is the reverse of the previous solution.  Instead of a united federation of equals, however, civilizations are ensnared and forced to be vassals of a greater Galactic Empire.  The Empire controls most of the galaxy, and although your Civilization maintains some autonomy, the empire still causes problems of one kind or another. (Aside: you can change out Empire for Corporation or what-have-you, just so long as its big, and its aims are tyrannical).

This can devolve into Solution One too.  This solution assumes the Empire doesn't care enough about other species to look for them- when you emerge, you join them or they crush you, simple as that.  This could provide for a intrigue filled galaxy where your proxies and Icons work in secret to overthrow the galaxy.

When they do, what happens next?  Does chaos fall, or does some external threat the Empire had kept at bay show up to cause problems?

Inspirations: Star Wars, Dune, Voltron

FERMI PARADOX SOLUTION FIVE: Things and Horrors that were Never Meant to be Known...

This solution leads to a horror-sque setting, maybe like Lovecraft, maybe not.  Civilizations are rare occurrences, and they tend to die off, but not without trying.  Civilizations work together here, because if they don't, the cosmic entities in the universe will wipe them out.  Massive monstrosities beyond comprehension destroy worlds.  Sanity falls and fails throughout the universe.

Stopping these horrors is a critical goal for the civilizations.  If these dooms and horrors are stopped, or eliminated, the nature of the galaxy changes completely.  You can have multiple different intelligent species here, or just various different kinds of humans, scattered before because of the actions of the cosmic horrors that dominate this setting.

Inspirations: Cthulhutech, Aliens

You'll note that I haven't completed figured out all the questions with my suggestions above.  They are a good baseline, though, based on the sorts of fiction people might be inspired to base their civilizations on.

Example: The group decides that they like Babylon 5 and want to play a more political kind of game.  They go with trying use Solution Two to start out their game.  Eric and Jane like the idea of a progenitor federation, a ancient confederation that spawned all the Civilizations they will be playing.

Tia wants there to be some sort of neutral meeting place, like in Babylon 5.  They decide that a dangerous planet in neutral place does the job, a site of an ancient progenitor temple.  Conflict between the various civilizations had existed prior to the start of the game, a war that only recently been ended with a cease fire.

John likes the directions things are going, and suggests that travel be relatively quick, using a jump system like in Battlestar Galactica.  The group moves on to figure out the issues they'll be dealing with.


Once you have a solid grasp on the questions about your Galaxy, try to determine the issues that the Galaxy at large is dealing with.  These are the grand things that no single Civilization can take care of on their own.

This follows the normal way it is handled in Fate Core.  One aspect should be the current issue, while the other is one that is a impending issue.  Turn both of these into Aspects for the Galaxy at large as well.

Example: They want temples and progenitor artifacts to be part of a underground artifact black market.  The Black Market encourages criminal activity in all the civilizations, and some acts of terrorism can be traced to the use of various Progenitor Artifact sites.  Tia suggests the aspect, Illegal Progenitor Artifact Trade as the aspect for one of the current issues.

Jane asks about the impending issue.  Her suggestion is that one of the Progenitor species is coming back, having changed since it left.  John likes the idea, suggesting the aspect, The Progenitors Strike Back for it.


Each issue will also need planets and Icons that represent it.  Names are going to be needed too.  This is about creating the big setting parts that will be interacted with by Civilizations.

Icons are going to be covered in more detail later.  For now, the Galaxy needs some Icons that represent it acting and trying to further its goals- namely, those Issues you created earlier.  Icons will be part of the arsenal of the GM, more or less.

Also try to button down any other places or Icons or things the group has thought up to get the Galaxy set up.  If you can't think of anything or don't like the current name or set up of, its ok to leave it if you can't think of anything more.  Focus on making sure everyone is enjoying the big picture so far.


Determine how quick communication and movement between stars is.  The default I put here is one turn per lightyear, but you can set it up however you want.  Maybe movement is instantaneous between stars.  Maybe it requires specific points in order to work.

Set up that parameter, just make sure it is in terms of Turns.  The basic time a turn takes in the game will be flexible, but hey, its a art to settle on something vague enough to work for what you want to do.

Don't forget to note down anything setting specific that an aspect or Icon or issue hasn't covered yet.  Not everything will for sure have a an aspect for it.  If you think its important enough to try to do something with later, note it down rather than forget about it.