Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Seeder Moons II

Continuing discussion from my previous post I imagine the four known Seeder Moons are tied up so tight in interstellar courts that no one can fart near them! There must be suits and counter suits - Do we intervene? Will it destroy the cultures? They should be Free! No, they are SAFE! - back and forth and roundabout. What if... What if the cases are made moot when one of the moons opens up communications? What if the cases are finally settled and it is decided to explore? What if someone finds another? Do they tell anyone? Or do they exploit it themselves? Maybe this happened a long time ago and it's been kept secret... What if scientists monitoring are these worlds somehow? Or what if are the courts are not allowing any such thing? What if one of the cultures breaches the outer skin and they all die. Are the people who tried to tie things up in court guilty of genocide? I love questions like these!

The Seeder Moons

Albert Bailey, my long time co-creator, and I had a long conversation this afternoon about the Seeder Moons. Albert - as frequently happens with him - was intrigued by the concept and dove into them. We talked out the origins, original intent or interpretation, possible reasons for their existence, and some of their implications, and ultimately decided to throw it open to you all for your input. First - the Seeder Moons were an artifact of the method of random generation I used when I originally created the setting for StarCluster 1 pre-2002. I didn't even realize how MANY there were until I pulled together all the Primitive and Backward Alien cultures for this project! There are four of them, and all involve captured asteroid moons, like Phobos and Deimos around Mars, with a low tech level alien culture on them - which can only work by positing that these tiny moons were engineered for this purpose. There are a lot of these captured asteroid moons listed in the published setting, and they are actually representative of many, many more in the real setting it represents. There are several dozen moons like this in our solar system, and thousands of asteroids, so in a setting like the Classic Cluster, there are probably billions of asteroids of the right size. Albert raised the point that these four Seeder Moons are just the ones we have FOUND. There may be hundreds out there we are flying past and ignoring. That is just cool! When I originally interpreted the random results, I figured "OK, the Seeders hollow out a moon, fill it with air and plants and animals and people, give it a light source, and rotate it for gravity... so one culture the size of a city state, maybe a million people or so, like an O'Neill colony." Albert pointed out that that would be terribly inefficient, and they would more likely stack many levels and rows of smaller caverns side by side and above and below each other, in total perhaps more livable surface area than the earth in one asteroid moon, all using gravitics. Not only that, there is no reason why there is only one species - you could keep a dozen sapient species in there, ignorant of each other. Maybe the name in the world listing is a collective noun for the people of this world. I love this idea! It is possible the chambers can interconnect, and it is possible they don't. Maybe the interconnections only open under certain conditions. More on that later. We set this aside for discussion. We both feel that the reasons the Seeders DID this is important, though unknowable to us directly, as the Seeders disappeared suddenly a million or so years ago. We both feel the most likely reason is to preserve potential. The Seeder Moons then would be a combination incubator and ark. Perhaps these people were rescued from a world which would be destroyed - glaciation, solar flares, impact - or maybe they were the second sapient species on their world, doomed to disappear when the other species expanded, like the Neanderthals or Denisovans. For whatever reason they were saved. Now these worlds seem to have a limit for the technology level they can hold. If you advance too far, you eventually break the shell and everyone dies. That seems cruel, perhaps. Perhaps instead there is a fail safe - a puzzle that you can figure out when your culture is ready. Then maybe these cultures can access communication to the cultures of the Cluster at large and shout out "We are here! Where are you?" Then what happens?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Recent Publications

Since 2012 (From Wikipedia) :

In Harm's Way: Pigboats was released on July 27, 2012. This game is about American World War II submarine sailors in the Pacific, fighting a silent war beneath the waves.

Volant - Kingdoms of Air and Stone was released on March 29, 2013. Volant is set on a world where some types of stone float, and the mountains tear themselves out of the ground and fly through the air, and people ride giant birds through the sky, with sailing ships built from floating stone, and monsters inhabiting the earth below.

Lowell Was Right! - A Very Different Now was released on May 23, 2014. Lowell Was Right! is an alt-universe SF game set in a universe where western science as of 1880 was basically correct, and all newer changes were wrong, brought up to the present day, like a Hard SF sort of Steampunk.

High Strung was released on December 7, 2014. High Strung is a game set in the 1970s through mid 1990s, where the player characters are rock musicians trying to make it.

The Necklace was released on May 29, 2015. The Necklace is an instantiation of the StarCluster 3 game set in a particular place within the Cluster, that being a gas torus orbiting a neutron star, with a billion kilometer long artificial river twisted about it. The River is a gravitic construct designed to carry water and gravity throughout the otherwise gravity-less torus. On July 30, 2016 The Necklace was updated to StarCluster 4 system.

StarCluster 4 - Zero Stage was released on July 30, 2016. Zero Stage is an introductory game for the StarCluster 4 system. It is set in Jeshen Space, a ten-star system region ruled by the Jeshen, and alien species. Humans are also present - they came into Jeshen Space as refugees from Earth, and were welcomed and given their own worlds as Jeshen allies. Now, almost 500 years later, changes are percolating through Jeshen Space.

StarCluster 4 - Cold Space was released on July 30, 2016. This is the Cold Space game of 2005, re-released with the new StarCluster 4 system.

StarCluster 4 - The Necklace was released on July 30, 2016. This is The Necklace game released in 2015, re-released with the new StarCluster 4 system.

StarCluster 4 - Free was released on August 16, 2016. This is a free to download, print at cost version of StarCluster 4, and comes with the StarCluster 4 Developer's License.

StarCluster 4 - FTL Now was released on September 1, 2016. This is the FTL Now game of 2006, re-released with the new StarCluster 4 system.

StarCluster 4 - Dark Orbital was released on September 15, 2016. Dark Orbital is an ancient space station, once a sub-light colony ship from earth, and re-purposed into an orbital city. Now, in the Flats and Mirrors of the undercity, the old workers still live on, digging through and recycling the trash from the glittering society above into new things for themselves. Punk returns to cyberpunk!

StarCluster 4 - Sweet Chariot was released on July 30, 2016. This is the Sweet Chariot II game of 2008, re-released with the new StarCluster 4 system.

StarCluster 4 - Out of the Ruins was released on December 8, 2016. Out of the Ruins is all about successor cultures to the missing humans, who are new to FTL technology. And their Holy Book is the Silmarillion.

StarCluster 4 - Sabre & World was released on March 3, 2017. Sabre & World is a "Sword and Planet" genre game, like the John Carter series. It features a generated setting and new mechanic twists.

Also released support materials:

Toolboxes contain tools you can use with StarCluster 4

StarCluster 4 Toolbox 1: Peoples
StarCluster 4 Toolbox 2: Setting Tools
StarCluster 4 Toolbox 3: Starships
StarCluster 4 Toolbox 4: Engineer's Guide
StarCluster 4 Toolbox 5: Characters

Magazines contain articles and stories about things within the StarCluster game

StarCluster 4 Magazine 1: Social
StarCluster 4 Magazine 2: Technology
StarCluster 4 Magazine 3: Time and Money


Fragments of Air and Stone for Volant
Helkaraxe for StarCluster 4 - Out of the Ruins


Merchanters and Stationers for StarCluster 3 - a free setting generation kit to create a setting like Cherryh's Union/Alliance/Compact Space (ask me for that because it is not linked to anywhere. Done out of love, not a desire to step on any toes!)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Great Game

It's the year 2120 in the Great Game - the end of play! Our solar system looks interesting! The four players' secret agendas are revealed!

A had Little Dictators, getting extra points for pushing North Korea, Kazakhstan, and Ethiopia - looks like only North Korea made it to the finish line, with a mostly stable colony on Orbital 3 around Earth, and partly stable colonies on Mars Orbital 2 and Oberon orbiting Saturn. Kazakhstan was knocked out early and Ethiopia never was drawn. Nice try, A!

B's secret agenda was Huddling By The Fire, getting extra points for founding colonies in the Inner System, inside the Belt, and there are indeed a lot of them! 14 colonies inside the Belt! Well played, B!

C's secret agenda was The Stars Must Be Free!, getting extra points for making colonies independent. There are independent colonies on Earth Orbital 1, Deimos circling Mars, Acidalia Planitia on Mars, Ceres in the Belt, and Elara around Jupiter. Nice job C!

D's secret agenda was Royal Legacy getting extra points for boosting the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The UK started off as a Great Power, but was knocked out fairly early, but Australia is a Great Power with a fully stable colony on Callisto, a mostly stable colony on Venus Orbital 3, and a partly stable colony on Belt Orbital 7; and both Canada - with mostly stable colonies on Mercury Orbital 1 and Ibrium on Luna as well as a fully stable colony on Phobos - and New Zealand = with its partly stable colony on Mars' North Pole and new unstable colony on Neptune Orbital 2 - are Lesser Powers. Excellent work D!

The furthest out colony turned out to be the Iranian colony on Eris in Trans Neptunian Space!

What happened to the starting lineup of great powers? Only Russia is left from the 2020 starters! War and pestilence and socio-economic disasters have churned them all under. The log would tell us, but it doesn't really matter!

The board was printed out at Staples full size on card stock, glued to a folding backing board, and taped up with duct tape around the edges. The chits and cards were also printed out at Staples on card stock. The National Power chits were pasted onto laser cut cardboard chits from the Game Crafter. The other chits and cards were left as is after being cut out. The Colonial Stability markers were hand drawn and colored directly onto laser cut chits from the Game Crafter. The game chits were circular, and hard to cut out. I may change that in the future. Maybe diamond shaped chits?

The Lucky Break's Shuttle!

Here's the shuttle for the Lucky Break. No name, no permanent crew! It's an a-grav only vessel, so only works in orbit or surface to orbit. The seating below and above, and the the inter-deck flooring between, can contract into small but dense cubes and be offloaded into the cargo deck. Changeout is rapid and simple. You would have three configurations - 30 passengers on two decks, 15 passengers on the upper deck plus cargo on the lower deck, and full volume used for cargo. Normally, you would use the Breakout for cargo lifting and the shuttle for passengers, but if the Breakout is detached somewhere else, you could use the shuttle for both.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Breakout

Here is the plan of the 90 ton lighter Breakout. The Breakout is a true spaceship able to fly independently anywhere in a star system, unlike the shuttle. So even though it goes through Jump in the hangar of the Lucky Break, it has its own captain and crew.

Link to full sized drawing: Breakout

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Lucky Break

I drew up the floorplan for the PC's ship, the Lucky Break. They are trying a new, untested Jump Drive which allows for a higher level of jump to rescue their adoptive parents who mis-jumped years ago and disappeared. They found a new theory which explained what may have happened, found two brilliant physicists to design a working drive to make that second level jump, then bought a shipyard.

This this is the result, designed by the players using the StarCluster 4 ship design rules in Toolbox 4: Engineer's Guide, and drawn up by me. They have allowed for their parent's ship to be brought back, sitting on top of the hanger deck. The Lucky Break looks like a beer keg with bung pump attached... Big StarCluster ships not made for entering atmosphere seldom look sexy! :D

First up, the Control Tower. Only the bridge is shown in plan, as the other levels are pretty boring. The top of the tower is a clear trapezoidal plasteel "dome". Unlike most ships this size - 1500 tons - the bridge crew can see out without sensors.

Link to full size drawing: Control Tower

This is the Hangar/Cargo Deck, with their Lighter, the Breakout (nicknamed Arkanoid) and their A-Grav Shuttle.

Link to full size drawing: Hangar/Cargo Deck

This is the Jump Deck, with the massive special Jump Drive and EM Bottles to serve as gigantic Capacitors to store the needed energy. This is approximately the center of mass with their parent's ship attached.

Link to full sized drawing: Jump Deck

This is the Quarters Deck, with the PCs' (and partners') luxurious living quarters. They share a hot tub, yes! Around them are a Sick Bay, an Operating Suite, a Healing Vat, and the slightly less sybaritic quarters for the rest of the crew.

Link to full sized drawing: Quarters Deck

This is the Main Deck, with the Pool - which doubles as a water injection boost for their main fusion drive - Lounge, Galley, Fuel Generator- which makes deuterium from hydrogen using a multi-stage weak force process - Conservatory with fruit trees and other plants, and the water farm, which feeds everyone.

Link to full sized drawing: Main Deck

This is the Engine Deck, with the main rocket nozzles, fusion reactor coils, and water boost injection pumps.

Link to full sized drawing: Engine Deck