So I threw out some ideas to my gaming group for a longer term game than we've been playing. One of the options was a Hulks & Horrors (which I reviewed a while back) type game. I'd use the overall concept from H&H and a lot of the world-building rules from it but the main rules of play would be something else, probably one of: d20 Modern/d20 Future, Albedo: Platinum Catalyst, or classic Traveler.
For my H&H style game I decided to use a hex map with the starting world in the middle. There would be a couple of semi-explored star systems next to it, and then many others beyond. Very basic information on the other system would be available, such as type of star, number of planets, and its name from the old days. The players might be working for a corporation or perhaps with a ship of their own. The idea is that the homeworld has only rediscovered interstellar travel fairly recently. Their space navy is almost entirely an intra-system one, built by the allied nations of the planet to battle some aliens who were discovered in the system. From the alien ships they reverse engineered the jump technology and began exploring. Several of the first jumps went wrong somehow and ships disappeared. Eventually they got the hang of it, but then missions to nearby systems ran into serious trouble. Clearly this wasn't going to be easy. But the technologies found on the alien ships after the war were amazing and there were more finds on the nearby planets. The nations of the planet had allied themselves in a common front to face the alien invaders, but that only papered over their on-going differences. And the technological spoils of war were not shared entirely equally as had been agreed upon.
Thus the race is on to explore the other planets and bring back loot, technological, physical or otherwise. But building spaceships is expensive and the only ones with the money were national governments, international megacorporations, and a handful of super-rich individuals. So currently there are national exploration efforts, corporate salvage efforts, individual efforts to salvage, explore, colonize, and more. There is also a small effort by the Space Navy which most see as window dressing to keep alive the illusion (or hope) of unity.
I'm using a combination of the Traveler and Hulks & Horrors rules to generate the systems and planets. I looked the world generation rules in Stars Without Number but it didn't have the sort of vibe I was looking for. I'm still deciding on what exactly caused the fall of civilization earlier. I figure that once an advance civilization weakens then issues which once were manageable or ignorable become relatively stronger. So I need a core factor which brought about the tipping point and then several other factors which either then either attacked opportunistically or broke loose and ran amok. Some ideas are:
- Nano-technology gone wrong (either as a self-replicating virus or evil artificial intelligence)
- Robot rebellion (and almost every device has AI embedded in it)
- Mutagenic bio-virus (but who created it?)
- Alien invasion
- Cthulhoid infiltration (leading to weird powers, cultists, demonic critters, etc.)
- Zombie-pocalypse (possibly as a result of one of the above)
- Sudden scarcity of a critical element used in all the old technologies (the star of the only source planet goes nova and destroys it)
And actually, while putting that list together I just thought that you could even make the home world be sort of like the Earth in CthulhuTech--yes, let's see how many games we can cram into one campaign! You've got Cthulhu factions on the planet (but we'll file off the serial numbers and call it something besides Cthulhu), an alien space fleet still lurking and maybe with bases on the homeworld, zombie/mutant creatures still infesting certain areas, military-oriented nanotech getting loose and turning on. I'm trying to decide if that would be a bit too much going on in one game or great extra depth and detail.