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Scifi story conundrum


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Sorry long rambling below. But maybe someone has some helpful suggestion to unstuck me?

I kept having problem visualizing an adventurer friendly future setting I can believe in, ie. finding the right protagonists...
I try to temperate my disbelief meter by remembering I quite enjoyed playing Mass Effect or Cyberpunk...

But here is the core of my disbelief problem, when I try to envision a future with gang warfare, corporate warfare, etc... I kept thinking of those political essay which reminds me that one important trait of the state is the monopoly on violence, ultimately not out of good intention but to prevent challenge to its power. It's not a particularly modern trait, as an example when the shogun united japan it destroyed most of Japan forts.
Even in the case of a careless state that only protect its few important assets, it won't let random agent damage big tax payers or private army to raise to any level of challenge.
So how could a space faring aggressively industrial, expansionist and scientific society have multiple infighting internal agents? 

I know, who cares, it's a game, right?
Where it's a bother though is we get all these cameras, detection tool, certainly used by the players, but when crime happen, as it often does in adventures, how much involved and efficient should state agency be?
I have a hard time letting players getting away with stealing vehicles and killing people. But same for NPC, then not much happen.

I realize there is a solution, the Cthulhu / New Horizon solution of having a nebulous underground movement of powerful nemesis to provide endless action. But it's not one that take my fancy as a GM. 
Another possible solution would be for adventurer be part of the military or law enforcement. Which I also would like to avoid - though perhaps I will eventually give in - because I'd like to have revolutionary movement or pirate and I'd like players to be free agent with no particular initial side preference, or perhaps switching allegiances (for example pirates are labelled as bad guy and will definitely give a bad first impression, but might turn out to be the gooder guys sometimes and have a chance to be on the winning side, occasionally, with PCs help).

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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21 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Another possible solution would be for adventurer be part of the military or law enforcement. Which I also would like to avoid - though perhaps I will eventually give in -

Which nearly fits the Traveller character generation -- but PCs will be ready for gameplay as typically 40 years old and retired from their service. And Scouts don't really retire -- they go on "detached duty", eligible to be called back to service (especially those who received usage of a basic four-place scout ship [which can just be operated by one person filling all duty roles on the ship], with free maintenance at scout bases in return for copying the pilot's logbook). If a Free Trader, of sufficient ranking (as I recall), they may gain ownership of a basic trade ship (and also the "mortgage" depending on age of said ship). Don't expect a "Millenium Falcon" here*1 -- we are talking a Jump-1/1G ship of 200 displacement tons (where a displacement ton is the volume of one ton of liquid hydrogen), and half of the displacement is probably fuel/engines/crew quarters. It has no ability to enter atmosphere (unlike the typical 100 displacement ton field agent scout ship)*2*3.

Hmmm, getting a trade ship with a mortgage needing to be paid might be a source of some adventures -- trying to open a trade route profitable enough to make payments from the income. Tricky to do for a ship that can only do a 1 parsec jump (typically one week on maneuver drive to get far enough out of gravity well to safely enter jump, one week in jump-space, one week on maneuver drive to get to the candidate planet, and one week in trade. And without atmospheric ability, said planet needs to have space stations/docks.

NOTES:

  1. Back around 1981 I had a coworker report that his gaming group tried to design something like the Millenium Falcon using "black book" Traveller rules. The conclusion was that the ONLY way the Falcon could make enough money to keep it running required it be a smuggling ship. It didn't have enough true cargo space for typical trade goods, it required small, high-value, objects for trade (imagine an armed "cigarette boat"  transporting diamonds)
  2. I have never liked the concept of "bis" computer models for scout ships, with their Atari 2600 concept of swapping cartridges for major ship operations: Plug in "NAV" cartridge to plot a route, plug in "PILOT" cartridge to maneuver the ship (it is not explained how the route from NAV gets to PILOT, except if the 1bis can have two cartridges loaded at a time); Need to use the weapon(s) -- plug in GUN cartridge (after removing NAV, assuming route is captured by PILOT)...
  3. Computers without dynamic programming hail back to the Apollo missions -- where the program memory was ropes of wires either passing though a magnetic ring, or passing around the outside of the ring [don't recall which is 0 and which is 1; essentially the program was sewn into the memory)
21 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

(for example pirates are labelled as bad guy and will definitely give a bad first impression, but might turn out to be the gooder guys sometimes and have a chance to be on the winning side, occasionally, with PCs help).

That describes some 90% of old Pirate movies  -- "Captain Blood", anything with Captain Morgan, "Dr. Syn"/"the Scarecrow"/"Captain Clegg" -- (or even less old -- Jack Sparrow, anyone)?

Edited by Baron Wulfraed
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14 minutes ago, Baron Wulfraed said:
21 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

(for example pirates are labelled as bad guy and will definitely give a bad first impression, but might turn out to be the gooder guys sometimes and have a chance to be on the winning side, occasionally, with PCs help).

That describes some 90% of old Pirate movies  -- "Captain Blood", anything with Captain Morgan, "Dr. Syn"/"the Scarecrow"/"Captain Clegg" -- (or even less old -- Jack Sparrow, anyone)?

Damn.. I didn't realize I was so main stream! 😮😅

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On 9/28/2021 at 6:04 AM, Lloyd Dupont said:

But here is the core of my disbelief problem, when I try to envision a future with gang warfare, corporate warfare, etc... I kept thinking of those political essay which reminds me that one important trait of the state is the monopoly on violence, ultimately not out of good intention but to prevent challenge to its power. It's not a particularly modern trait, as an example when the shogun united japan it destroyed most of Japan forts.
Even in the case of a careless state that only protect its few important assets, it won't let random agent damage big tax payers or private army to raise to any level of challenge.
So how could a space faring aggressively industrial, expansionist and scientific society have multiple infighting internal agents? 

Why would it be a singular society?

I you have a federation that includes corporate states, functional democracies/constitutional monarchies/plutocracies, religious states and autocracies, and federal controlled areas or barely controlled development areas where people from all of these disparate backgrounds interact, you can have that infighting.

There have been long-lived, dysfunctional empires, like e.g. the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation.

 

On 9/28/2021 at 6:04 AM, Lloyd Dupont said:

Where it's a bother though is we get all these cameras, detection tool, certainly used by the players, but when crime happen, as it often does in adventures, how much involved and efficient should state agency be?

There are tendencies to privatize security or police work. In such a model, a district receives the security it pays for.

Alternatively, once you have state-hood of corporations, these corporations may have diplomatic immunity or similar overrides for local law enforcement.

 

On 9/28/2021 at 6:04 AM, Lloyd Dupont said:

I have a hard time letting players getting away with stealing vehicles and killing people. But same for NPC, then not much happen.

If the players work for an agency, they could be the corrupt law enforcers, or straight law enforcers for an agency subect to corruption. If they are an underground civil rights organization, they might have been pushed into a terrorist role, with staged evidence accusing them of such deeds.

Different treatment by law enforcement depending on ethnicity or money is a sad reality even under somewhat working democratic control.

 

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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5 hours ago, Joerg said:

Why would it be a singular society?

I you have a federation that includes corporate states, functional democracies/constitutional monarchies/plutocracies, religious states and autocracies, and federal controlled areas or barely controlled development areas where people from all of these disparate backgrounds interact, you can have that infighting.

There have been long-lived, dysfunctional empires, like e.g. the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation.

Trying!
Might suffer from lack of imagination or excessively pointlessly critical mind ... 😞
Meanwhile I started write down any "acceptable" gig idea down in a word document. when th elist will be long enough, perhaps I'll be satisfied...

 

5 hours ago, Joerg said:

If the players work for an agency, they could be the corrupt law enforcers, or straight law enforcers for an agency subect to corruption. If they are an underground civil rights organization, they might have been pushed into a terrorist role, with staged evidence accusing them of such deeds.

Different treatment by law enforcement depending on ethnicity or money is a sad reality even under somewhat working democratic control.

As I said.. I was loath to have the player be part of government agency. But aware I might have to give in on that front.

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Firefly had this problem because the core worlds were super high tech surveillance states with extremely efficient law enforcement. The solution was to not go to the core worlds. There's no reason everywhere has to be like that, especially if habitable worlds are common and space travel is relatively available, people will just spread out indefinitely into the galaxy. Plenty of space for wild west style settlements and nascent societies that don't quite have their crap together that well yet.

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Check out the Runequest Glorantha Wiki for RQ links and resources. Any updates or contributions welcome!

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Hi Simon,

That a really good point!

 

I want to complain I am following another contentious idea I have.. Just like Master of Orion and unlike Star War (and possibly unlike what will "really happen" if we could explore space and travel it's... 3D space) I only have about 20 solar systems. Because, somewhat like MoO Ship have a range of 2~5 parsec, there might be about 1 star every 1 to 3 parsecs. And the Bulrathis empire is a potato of about 15 by 20 parsecs.... (going outside the empire is difficult, no fuel and other civilisation dont accept much migration in general)

That said one planet is already big enough.. A star system has many celestial body and with even as low as 20 star systems for the one empire I focus on, there is certainly a lot of room for adventure...

starting my adventure brainstorm idea booklet now ... 🙂 

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8 hours ago, Joerg said:

There have been long-lived, dysfunctional empires, like e.g. the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation.

Which, in a way, was none of the three (not Holy, not Roman, and not even a proper Empire)

3 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Trying!
Might suffer from lack of imagination or excessively pointlessly critical mind ... 😞
Meanwhile I started write down any "acceptable" gig idea down in a word document. when th elist will be long enough, perhaps I'll be satisfied...

 

As I said.. I was loath to have the player be part of government agency. But aware I might have to give in on that front.

I'd invoke Traveller again -- this time the world system creation rules, which probably has government systems running from planets at the city-state level (my books are a bit difficult to get to at the moment), through balkanization, and up... which combine with tech level to produce a wide ranging set of systems.

 

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12 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

Mmm.. I procrastinated on reading Traveller many times... might have to dive in.. eventually....

One of the tricky parts is /which/ edition can one locate 😱

Original black pamphlet set, with supplemental detail volumes. Hardcover all-in-one of original 3 booklet set. MegaTraveller. Traveller: the New Error Era (I wasn't thrilled at that one -- where "Virus" could infect ships computers just from receiving a message; what? you don't have system isolation between communication gear and life support?). Marc Miller's Traveller (which jumped back some 500-1000 years with reduced tech levels). Think there was a GURPS variant somewhere in the series (I do not have GURPS -- but do have copies of the other four generations).

 

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