Sunday, March 24, 2013

Apotheosis Drive Exodus

David Hill of Machine Age Productions has launched the Kickstarter for Apotheosis Drive X, their Fate Core powered mecha game. There is a whole lot of goodness so far based on the playtest packet that they released, as well as playtest reports and it simply looks like a barrel of fun.

I've backed the Kickstarter because I have a soft spot for mecha games. But before it launched, David Hill had put out a call for setting pitches, to be included in a setting anthology as a stretch goal for the Kickstarter. Somewhat on a lark, I sent one in. It was titled Apotheosis Drive Exodus, and could be included in the setting anthology if the stretch goals are met.

The Premise
In a nutshell, mankind discovers that dark matter is something that is being created by a massive entity that they name the Engine. They also discover the Earth has only a few centuries before it is rendered uninhabitable by an incursion of this dark matter. Facing a threat larger than any humanity has ever known,  thousands of enormous generation ships are built to evacuate the entire population of Earth. Fast forward a few centuries, and mankind is being slowly hemmed in and exterminated by the Engine. Then a long-dead alien world is discovered, and with it massive war machines whose purpose seems to be to fight the Engine: the Jotun. With them mankind has hope, no matter how slim, of being able to triumph. 

Oddly enough, the inspirations for this setting aren't anime. They are hard science fiction novels such as Gregory Benford's Galactic Center series and Peter Watts' Blindsight. While Exodus is not hard science fiction (it does, after all, have enormous war machines and a universe being "reformatted" into dark matter), I'm still trying my best to have many of the basics be hard as possible.

The Goodies
Apotheosis Drive Exodus will have a number of features to get across the feel and scope of the setting
  • Size: We're talking about a universe-sized threat. The Arkships are constructed from large asteroids, planetoids, and even small moons. They have singularity generators powering them, magnetic scoops millions of kilometers in diameter and the firepower to vaporize small moons themselves. The Jotun are massive, dark energy powered and capable of going toe-to-toe with the worst a universe-spanning entity can throw at them.
  • Big Mysteries: Why does the Engine exist, and why would it create dark matter? What drives it? Why is humanity the only living intelligent species? How did the alien progenitor race unlock the secrets of the Engine? Why do A.I.s or other virtual intelligence/consciousness inevitably become corrupted?
  • Human solutions: Humanity are, by accident or design, the only hope for preserving a universe filled with wonder, diversity, and most importantly - life. Yet, as is human nature, there is not complete agreement. There are factions within these remnants of humanity, each with their own vision of the future.
  • Transhuman doesn't mean less human: Humanity has unlocked the secrets of genetic engineering, quantum mechanics, and countless other advancements. They are still recognizable as human beings. No radical genetic engineering, no extreme variations from the human form, no ability to download or upload consciousness.
  • Arkships: The Arkship is the focal point for the character group and is created with its own Aspects, Skills and Stunts. There are a few types of Arkships, and they provide the social and political backdrop for the characters when they are not fighting to save the universe.
  • Jotun: Jotun aren't alive, but that doesn't mean they don't have personality. Every Jotun is unique, with its own strengths and limitations. Armed with a dazzling variety of weaponry and abilities, they have the power to fight against overwhelming odds and a foe that utterly dwarfs them.
Hopefully that gives you an idea of where I am trying to go with this setting. Hopefully the Kickstarter will be successful enough that I'll be given the opportunity for it to be included it in the setting anthology.