(Just lost a big post here. *sigh* Need to start saving as I type.)
So, my group is getting ready to start playing the Mongoose Publishing version of Traveller. It’s going to be a sandbox type game, which requires a lot of player involvement. One of the ways I thought my players could be more involved was if they had a hand in creating the history of the sector we’ll be playing in. So, we decided to collaboratively build the history by playing a game of Microscope.
Microscope is a neat little RPG by Lame Mage Productions that gives you rules for creating a slice of history. The basic mechanic is that each player, on his/her turn, has total control of what happens. Each round of play has a specific focus (a person, place, thing, idea, etc. that all players must include in their creation). Each player in turn gets to create a period of history, an event within a period, or a scene within an event that tries to answer a specific question about the event. Overall, it’s a brilliant system, and I feel like I could easily create histories for all sorts of games. (And really, which is better, a shared history between the players or a 200 page sourcebook that tells you the history? In RPGs, and maybe in life, wouldn’t you rather make history than read it?)
So, we set some ground rules for our history–there had to be some Feudalism, and there could not be sentient aliens. (In RPGs, sentient aliens always seem too much like D&D races to me.) I set the start point and the end point, based on my needs as GM for the campaign. And then we got to playing, and here’s what we created. (Remember that this is all out of our heads–the game has no charts or set pieces.) Periods are the left-most items, with events being indented some, and scenes indented even more (if listed).
In the distant past, Earth expands into the stars. Along the way they find massive Gates that allow them to traverse the vast empty patches of space. They found colonies in the sectors where the Jump Gates lead. This sector was founded almost 600 years before the Gate closed. Terra’s Verdict was supposed to be the last major colony vessel from Earth.
- Jump Gate closes
- Terra’s Verdict, a massive colony ship, destined for our sector disappears just before the Jump Gate closes.
- Rise of the Space Lords: As the colonies fend for themselves without the supplies from the Terra’s Verdict, those who have ships that can jump between systems in the sector gain more and more power. They stylize themselves as feudal lords, claiming planets for their own, and keeping the subjects in check through the power of their gunships and the monopoly they have on trade.
- Ship Yard Omega opens for business: They make their money by selling ships to anyone, thus radically expanding the ranks of the nobility.
- Consolidation of Power Under the Emperor
- Council of the Fifty Captains: Captain Vesuvius, a powerful Psion, arranges a meeting of the heads of the 50 most powerful captains. At the meeting, he and 23 other Lords ambush and kill the other 26 captains.
- The 24 Main Noble Lines are created, and each noble gains a hereditary title and sovereignty over their section own section of space. In return, Captain Vesuvius is named Emperor of the Sector.
- The Terra’s Verdict is rediscovered floating in space. It is immediately claimed by a group rebelling against the new Emperor.
- Dissolution of Imperial Power
- An aging Emperor Vesuvius attempts to find the Terra’s Verdict and dies.
- While interrogating a rebel prisoner, an assassin attempts to kill the Emperor and catches him in a moment when his attention is divided. The Emperor is caught in a psychic backlash and his head explodes. Captain Rondeau is conveniently out of the room at the time.
- The Reign of the Rondeaus: An overall time of weak Imperial leadership as the Rondeau family focuses on building the Imperial coffers.
- Ship Yard Omega Corporation (SYOC) buys out 13 noble lines from the families, consolidating majority power of the Empire under SYOC’s control. The Emperor remains in control, but finds it harder and harder to accomplish anything of significance.
- Cloning Technology is developed, but is promptly banned by the Empire for fear that SYOC will use the technology to further undermine the Empire.
- SYOC turns day to day operations of its company over to a robot with advanced AI. The all human board retains final authority for the company.
- The Purge of the Psions by United Omega Coporations
- SYOC creates a government within a government by dividing up parts of the Empire to mega corporations, calling the conglomerate the United Omega Coporations.
- Research reveals the Jump Gates are connected to psychic energy, and that they may be reopened using Psionic powers.
- UOC responds to the Gate revelation by declaring all Psions enemies of the state, and begins a program of eradication and internment.
- The Church of Unified Space is formed after the revelation of the possibility of reopening the Gate. They are derisively referred to as the “Gaters.”
- Imperial/Corporate Wars (The Imp-Cor Wars)
- In an attempt to end the Psion purge, the Church of Unified Space begins to sow seeds of dissent between the Empire and the UOC. The dissent spreads until the Empire (under Empress Hyperia) attempts to reclaim the space claimed by the UOC. The superior numbers of Imperial troops and the superior piloting of the nobles match up against the superior economics and technology of the UOC.
- The Imp-Cor wars are ended by a deal brokered by the Church of Unified Space that divides the sector in half, with a DMZ between the sides patrolled by the Church of Unified Space.
- Jump Gate reopens
- UOC cuts trade to Horizon. Mass starvation and food riots ensue.
- Last 2 known Psions (Romulus and Remus) seek asylum on Terra’s Verdict, hoping to escape through the Gate.
- The Church of Unified Space and the Church of the Emissary join the rebels on Terra’s Verdict and move to the Horizon system to open the Gate.
- Leaders of both churches claim they have the correct code to open the Gate.
- Terra’s Verdict reactivates the Gate. . .
- . . . by using the code from the Church of the Emissary. The Terra’s Verdict immediately disappears.
- After an initial exodus by a number of civilian ships through the Gate, the Empire puts a containment cordon around the Gate, and begins sending probes through. None return.
Our campaign will start shortly after the last event. I’ve taken a little artistic license here to clean up the history a bit for our new campaign, but mostly this is how it happened.