Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part VI -- The Future

At last, we're in the future eras of the Hero Universe. The past five installments can be found here...

Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part I -- Pre-Cataclysm
Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part II -- Post-Cataclysm to the Medieval Era
Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part III -- Musketeers, Pirates, and Revolutions
Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part IV -- Cowboys and Victorians 
Setting Expeditions: The Hero Universe, Part V -- Mystery Men and Super-heroes

The future itself is open ended; plenty of space to insert your own side timeline or slap something beyond the last era. Like a Fading Suns-ish setting, for example.

Anyway, here we go:

Cyber Hero (2020 to 2080)

The rise of pervasive computer technology, genetic engineering, and increasing political factionalism and splintering (including terrorism) lead to constant struggles for power over this new world order. Techno-anarchists, vigilantes, eco-terrorists, rogue capitalists, and others fight against the domination of the major forces in society, governments and mega-corporations.

During this period, mankind builds its first tentative manned orbital and lunar colonies, and sends explorers to Mars. But for the most part the eyes of men are not cast up toward the stars, but downward into the squalid urban settings where the vast majority of them live, or “outward” into the glittering neon pseudoworld of the CyberNet. Superheroes and superpowers no longer play any role, having died off or faded away.

Cyberpunk style, but with a heroic bent, as vigilante-style heroes with attitude fight back against the forces that threaten to plunge the world into darkness.

Notes: It's really easy to mine almost all the cyberpunk and lower-level transhumanist materials out there for this genre. In fact, for the more Akira and Ghost in the Shell-inspired dystopian future, there's an excellent sourcebook from Blackwyrm Games: Kazei 5 by Michael Surbrook.

Solar Hero (2080 to 2200)

Humans make their first true journeys away from their birthplace. They explore their solar system, establishing colonies and exploiting the heavens for commercial gain. Relatively cheap space travel has a huge impact on society. Cut off from the mainstream of human civilization, colonies and outposts sometimes become lawless places, with reports of slave labor in the asteroid belts. Countries and corporations wage an undeclared war over the resources of the system, and many new political entities appear. An alien invasion in 2153 throws all of this into even deeper turmoil.

By this point Earth has saved itself from the potential societal collapse hinted at in Cyber Hero. Solar Hero is a hard SF/low SF setting limited to our solar system, with perhaps tentative, slower-than light (sleeper ships, generation ships, and the like) journeys to nearby systems, (e.g., Alpha Centauri). Who knows what mysteries may lurk, hidden on the planets so close to us, and yet so far away?

Notes: Folks unfamiliar with this genre of SF might think that the solar system is a small place to adventure in. Not so! A great example of such a (surprisingly Hard SF) setting from another publisher is Jovian Chronicles by DreamPod 9. Yes, it does feature giant mechs warring against one another -- more Gundam than Mechwarrior though.

Interstellar Era (2200 to 2300)

Human existence is revolutionized by the discovery of FTL travel (or perhaps enterprising humans swipe it from the defeated alien invaders of Solar Hero). At first FTL drives aren’t much faster than 1 light-year per year, but they improve slowly and steadily. Military and commercial vessels tasked with exploration spread out through the stars within 200 light-years of Earth.

Independent traders seek to bring back the wealth of the stars as adventurous colonists try to establish new homes on strange worlds. Humanity encounters many alien species.

Notes: The default FTL travel used seems far removed from the Jumpgate-based SF like Babylon 5, and more like Star Trek: Enterprise. Or even Firefly. Just sayin'.

Alien Wars (2300 to 2400)

Mankind engages in its first interstellar war with an implacably hostile species, the insectoid/reptiloid Xenovores. Powered armor, starship battles, and bizarre alien tactics and technology take center stage as the vicious Xenovores try to exterminate humanity. The war rages for a century throughout human and Xenovore space, throwing mankind into turmoil and shattering his sphere of control into many individual worlds (or small confederations of worlds) that have little or no contact with Earth -- and soon don’t feel beholden to it anymore.

Note: think Starship Troopers meets Aliens. But with other alien races around as well.

The Terran Empire (2400 to 2700)

Nope, this isn't available anymore.
In the wake of the costly defeat (but not utter destruction) of the Xenovores, militarists struggle for control over Humanspace after Earth’s attempt to re-assert its control fails in the face of determined independence movements in many Human worlds and systems. After decades of struggle, Admiral Marissa DeValiere establishes the Terran Empire, which the House of DeValiere rules for the next 250 years. Forged from the bits and pieces of Humanspace, and soon including various conquered or allied alien races, the Empire is a political juggernaut, wielding influence throughout the Milky Way Galaxy.

The Terran Empire setting features a multitude of adventuring possibilities: political intrigue, rebellions against the Empire’s authority, military action against alien enemies or targets of conquest, galactic power struggles with alien empires, expanding the boundaries of Human knowledge via exploration and trade, and many more.

Note: this has a feel of Traveller, with a touch of the Star Wars Old Republic. It is an Empire that will fragment, but has a good run.

The Galactic Federation (2700 to at least 3000, perhaps beyond)

After decades of worsening political unrest beginning about 2660, the Empire falls in 2702, leading to thirty years of instability, warlordism, and troubles. Eventually, led by charismatic diplomats and scientists, most of humanity (and some alien species) comes together to form the Galactic Federation of Free Worlds. Based on free trade, democracy, and federalism, it rebuilds, then blossoms and expands for centuries.

Note: this is more like the Federation of Star Trek, and perhaps a bit more of the Old Republic of Star Wars. The instability era could be likened to Farscape in feel.

Galactic Champions (3000)

As magic once again subtly waxes, superhumans (and super-beings from other species) arise throughout the galaxy. Superheroes and starships fight planet-shattering battles to preserve the future of sapient life in the galaxy against a myriad of terrifying threats. Civilization breaks down in a few places where magic becomes so strong that technology becomes unreliable.

Note: this so Legion of Super-Heroes, honestly. I love it. Especially because the default setting brings back its equivalent of Ultron into the high-tech far future. And all this talk of magic bring to mind the Magic Wars that erupted at the end of the original LSH series. No, they never really fought Magneto, but mutants would rationalize why so many humans suddenly developed powers to deal with the difficulties of their respective planets.

Beyond 3000

The possibilities are endless!

Note: Yep, Fading Suns and probably something Transhumanist like Eclipse Phase.


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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