Monday, September 09, 2019

Seven Worlds Campaign - Prologue

A New Campaign

The Terrinoth B Team campaign arc is scheduled to come to an end next week, and we will be starting a new campaign at the end of this month.

Now I plan my gaming schedule way in advance. Like, nine months in advance. As early as the end of last year I had planned to run another Savage Worlds sci-fi campaign, using the new Adventurer's Edition of the rules, which I backed on Kickstarter. With a promised June delivery date, I reckoned an August start date would be conservative... but it seems now that the physical books will reach me some time in October, so I will have to use the pdf for now...

For a while I could not decide between running Seven Worlds, or a sequel of our Gamma World campaign, but after re-watching The Expendables and its sequels on Netflix, I decided I would do Seven Worlds after all.

While Seven Worlds has a harder sci-fi setting with a much lower tech level than the setting I used for my previous campaign, and the central techs featured in the modules will not apply to my campaign, the central threat/conflict fit the story of my setting very well, which brings us to...

The story so far...

The new campaign takes place 15 years after the end of the first one.

About three centuries ago, humanity developed faster-than-light travel and began colonising nearby systems. As they explored further from Earth towards the centre of the galaxy they came into contact with alien civilisations, and together they formed the United Confederation, a (Star Trek) Federation analogue for our world.

Eventually, the Confederation came into contact with the expansionist Tazanian Empire, based on the other side of the galaxy. A century-long war ensued, until both sides decided to conclude a peace to preserve their respective polities.

Each power retained the core systems close to their respective capitals, and large swathes of the galaxy were designated as the Neutral Zone. Under the terms of the treaty, ships from both sides were forbidden from entering the Neutral Zone. As a result, shipping companies based in the Neutral Zone that would ply the routes between them sprang into existence, and it was in one of these companies that we found our heroes, among whom were:

Nick Johnson, a human ex-cop from the Confederation who fled to the Neutral Zone after being framed for the murder of his wife by one Rian Raynaud.

Kumra Ka'an, a space yeti with a criminal past.

RB-62, a reprogrammed utility droid.

AJ Stamper, a space-miner made redundant when his company decided to use droids as workers.

Amahrius, formerly captain of the Royal Guard of the Serran-ruled planet of Hirceptus, who had to flee his homeworld after being framed for the murder of the Empress.

(They will be joined in the new campaign by Jet Black, an orphan from the streets with a flair for tech, who joined the Galactic Teamsters' Guild for the chance to travel and see the galaxy.)

Over the course of the campaign the crew were caught up in the activities of The Order, a political movement that emerged not two years ago near a region of the galaxy known as the Dead Zone (on account of all the uninhabitable planets found there). System after system joined The Order, sometimes suddenly and inexplicably, even though there seemed to be no uniting cause for the movement.

Eventually the crew learned that The Order had been 'brainwashing' people to join them by means of psychic power (a power which was unknown in the galaxy at that point) which they were able to project by proximity (out to a dozen light years or so away), or by means of strange stone obelisks.

During this time, Amahrius and the crew rescued Princess Aiel of Hirceptus, who was held prisoner by the usurper Prince Kol'vyl. She revealed that the prince was the mastermind behind the murder of the Empress, and that he was also the secret leader of The Order.

Using the information provided by the princess, the crew set off to investigate The Order, and eventually learned the story behind The Order.

Millennia ago, the Serran race developed primitive space flight. As they traveled to other systems, they realised that their innate psychic powers allowed them to dominate the other species found there. Slowly, they began to conquer these other worlds bloodlessly. As the range of their space travel increased, they learned that their powers faded if they were too far away from their colonies. The Serran priests learned that the psychic power of the race in fact flowed from the bedrock of their home planet and through each Serran via an invisible link that was weakened by distance. To remedy this, they carved twelve obelisks from the top of their sacred mountain, which they called guidestones, placed them into twelve cathedral ships which formed the flagships of the Serran fleets, and so the Serrans vastly increased their dominion, spreading to the far reaches of the galaxy.

For a while the Serrans were masters of the galaxy, but things took a turn when they came upon Mathus, the home planet of the feline Rakashan. The Rakashans were immune to psychic powers, and their primitive warships took the Serrans by surprise and defeated and captured the Serran fleet sent to conquer the planet. The Rakashans were able to commandeer and up-arm the Serran ships and use their navigational data to find the other Serran colonies, even though they were unable to duplicate their faster-than-light engines. Slowly but surely, the aggressive Rakashans conquered one Serran colony after another, with each victory giving them more ships and resources.

The Serrans, never a numerous people, fled before the Rakashan invasion, and destroyed their colonies in their retreat, which resulted in the formation of the Dead Zone. Eventually their homeworld was lost, their people enslaved, and as the psychic chains that linked their colonies broke, the Serran overlords were overthrown in those colonies not yet reached by the Rakashans. Only on a few worlds did the Serrans remain the dominant people, and one of these was Hirceptus. The history of the Serrans, now scattered across a hundred planets, were suppressed, both by their erstwhile subjects and the Serrans themselves, for fear of persecution, and eventually tales of both their psychic powers and their imperial history would be forgotten.

For their part the Rakashans soon fell into internal warfare, and as their Serran ships were destroyed in civil wars, they lost their capacity for long-distance space travel, and with it the memory of their brief first empire. It would take centuries before the Rakashans would develop the technology that will allow them to form the Tazanian Empire.

Millennia later, Prince Kol'vyl, a star-archaeologist, would come across records from this period, and begin to search for the Serran homeworld and the lost cathedral ships. When he located the wreckage of one of the cathedral ships on a planet in the Dead Zone, his latent psychic abilities was awakened by the guidestone contained within. The prince kept his discovery secret, even as he began initiating and training an order of psychic warriors, with the grand ambition of restoring the Serran Empire.

When his schemes were discovered by the Empress, he had her assassinated and took over Hirceptus. Then, acting behind the scenes, he began to engineer the rise of The Order.

When The Order became sufficiently powerful, they began to encroach on the territories of the Tazanian Empire. As these incursions increased, the Tazanian Empire threatened to retaliate against The Order - unfortunately, when the peace treaty was written a century ago, neither power predicted a time when a third power would arise within the Neutral Zone that would have the power to threaten either of the signatories, so any military action by the Tazanian Empire would breach the terms of the peace, and draw the Confederation into a second galactic war. As tension rose between the two great powers, a peace negotiation was called on the Galactic Core Point to try to avert war.

With Princess Aiel by their side, the crew presented evidence of Prince Kol'vyl's machinations at the conference, but the revelation only made the Tazanians more determined to go to war, and by then it seemed The Order was too powerful to be stopped except by war.

In a last ditch effort to stop The Order, the crew seized one of the guidestones, and traveled to the Serran homeworld, now a Tazanian colony, for it was predicted that the return of one of the guidestones to their origin would create a short-circuit in the psychic chain, breaking for a time the psychic power.

When they arrived at the sacred mountain, however, they found Prince Kol'vyl waiting for them. After a titanic battle, the crew were able to return the guidestone into the niche in the mountain rock from which it was cut, and the resulting energy release killed Prince Kol'vyl and his retinue, and at the same instant, the psychic hold The Order had over its constituent systems was broken.

Overnight, planets declared their departure from The Order, and the military crisis was over. However, a backlash against Serrans started almost immediately, as fear of their psychic powers and 'corrupting influence' fueled pogroms and persecutions on a hundred planets. Our crew should have been celebrated as heroes for averting the war, but their revelation of the Serran involvement resulted in atrocities, so instead they chose to fade into obscurity to deal with their guilt. All except for Amahrius, that is.

Now raised to the throne of Hirceptus, Empress Aiel (with the aid of Amahrius, restored to his position as the captain of the Royal Guard) opened Hirceptus to the hundreds of thousands of refugees and traveled to the many systems to plead for her people. Tragically, she was murdered by a mob on one such visit. The death of a uniting figure for the Serran people caused great anguish and anger in the people, and for a while it seemed that another war would break out. But Amahrius rose to the occasion, and became a voice for reason and peace in this trying time, and was able to convince the Serrans to forgo their vengeance, and so peace was kept.

In the decade that followed, Amahrius promoted the peaceful use of (the now weakened) Serran psychic powers, and formed the Serran Brotherhood for Peace. Using their subtle psychic abilities, the Serrans act as negotiators and counselors for the various factions in the galaxy. While initially viewed with suspicion, the positive outcomes from the employment of Serran 'speakers' soon became apparent, and they began to become a valued asset by the various governments.

So as our new campaign begins, the galaxy is enjoying a new era of peace and prosperity. But as we rejoin our heroes, we all know that the crew that once saved the galaxy from total war, is gonna have to do it again...

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