Heavy Gear: Infinite Tango – Life on Helios

I’ve mentioned in prior posts a couple of new worlds I’ve wanted to add to my Heavy Gear “Infinite Tango” sandbox:

  • El Dorado (for an exploration game), a “Brave New World” that Terra Nova discovers and decides to settle; and
  • Argo (for an “old empire” game), a “Lost World” that was settled by a generation ship thousands of years ago.

My issue is I’ve never been very good at building things from scratch, much as I would like to. I’m much better at taking ideas from this, that and the other, throwing everything in a blender and seeing what I come up with.

In this case, I’ve taken the concepts above, added in the bones of a failed science fiction video game, and shaken well. I think the result is solid enough to work with.

“Thousands of years ago, the generation ship Argo discovered the world Helios. The people aboard the Argo settled on Helios and thrived, but for some reason they disappeared. Most of what we know about them comes from the ruins they left behind, maintained and guarded by untold numbers of robots.

We’ve also learned about the Argonauts – what would you call them? – from the ‘peradine,’ a humanoid species that we’ve learned was created as a race of servants. We’ve worked with the peradine for a while now and they are a wonderful people, but that revelation has sent shock waves throughout their society.

That’s not the only problem, though. The Earthers found Helios about the same time we did, and they’re trying to kick us out. We’re not going to let that happen. Earth kicked her colonies to the curb once – they don’t have the right to steal one of ours!”

If this sounds familiar, there’s a reason: Helios is simply a reduced version of Mass Effect Andromeda.

Take the “worlds” in MEA and paste them onto one planet. MEA’s environments and visuals are the game’s best features, so I say take full advantage of them.

Keep the angara as an artificially-created species, just like the GRELs and the Prime Knights before them. In fact, replace the kett with GRELs and the weakness of the “exaltation” storyline goes away. Rather than goofy looking aliens on some poorly written holy war, you’ve got a mean, purple and established enemy trying to take the planet from your brave characters.

Despite its many flaws, MEA has the bones of a good sci-fi exploration game in a setting featuring a long-dead culture. With a couple of simple changes, I think it can be a solid foundation for a new Heavy Gear setting.

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Battlelogs: SIU Alpha Is Now Available!

The latest Heavy Gear D6 supplement covers the members of the Special Intervention Unit Team Alpha, first featured in the supplement Operation: Jungle Drums. D6 stats and full-color artwork are featured for Miranda Petite, Katja Sez and all the rest. Download it today!

Core Command: Final Frontier – Reordering the Constitution-class Starships

One of the worst details in the Star Trek canon are the hull numbers of the different starships that appear onscreen. From the Constellation in the TOS episode “The Doomsday Machine” (why not “1710?”) to the Kelvin in the 2009 film (“0514” refers to J.J. Abrams’s birthday of May 4th, but why is the zero there?), the mix-ups, attempted corrections and flat-out making-it-up-as-they-went make imposing any order on the official canon hull numbers impossible.

The whole point of CCFF is to not worry about all that. For things like this, the only solution is to say “this is the way we’re doing it.” The table below shows the CCFF hull numbers of Flight I of the Constitution-class.

Name Canon Number CCFF Number
Constitution Not listed * NCC-1700
Enterprise NCC-1701 NCC-1701
Farragut NCC-1659 NCC-1702
Hood NCC-1703 NCC-1703
Kongo Not listed NCC-1704
Excalibur NCC-1664 NCC-1705
Exeter NCC-1672 NCC-1706
Yorktown NCC-1717 NCC-1707
Valiant Not listed NCC-1708
Lexington NCC-1709 NCC-1709
Constellation NCC-1017 ** NCC-1710
Potemkin
NCC-1659 NCC-1711
Intrepid Not listed NCC-1712

(This list is similar to that of the first group of Constitutions in the Star Fleet Technical Manual, but I’ve moved a few things around.)

* According to the Memory Alpha website, the number NCC-1700 was a Constitution-class vessel, but it was never referred to by name. Likewise, the Constitution was never officially given a hull number.

** No. I know why it was done, and I don’t care.

For those not familiar with the term, “flights” are production batches of naval vessels. This is the first group of thirteen Constitutions (from a line in the TOS episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday,”), but later groups would be built as “Flight II,” “Flight III,” and so on. This allows vessels with higher numbers like the Defiant (NCC-1764) to appear, and also for new starships to replaces losses like the Excalibur, the Constellation and the Intrepid.

Sometimes, the only way to fix something is to throw it out and start over. This shouldn’t happen too much in CCFF, but when it does I’ll explain why.

One note: In the TOS episode “Court Martial,” Captain Kirk mentions serving as a young officer on the USS Republic (NCC-1371). Somewhere along the way, this came to be considered part of the Constitution class. This is explicitly not the case here; in CCFF, the Republic is considered to be an earlier class of starship.

Core Command: Final Frontier – The Federation-class Starship

One of my favorite Star Trek books from my youth was the Star Fleet Technical Manual by Franz Joseph. In addition to being one of the earliest collections of Star Trek-related artwork, it featured a set of starship designs that have become classics among modelers and Star Trek fans alike.

The Federation-class Dreadnought is one example. It is supposed to be an “uprated Enterprise,” with more mobility and firepower, but the design has a couple of problems. First, it features “sensor dishes” pointing forward and aft, but that is a result of the book’s age; it was printed before it was established in the Star Trek canon what a starship’s “main deflector dish” actually did.

The second, more basic problem is the name “dreadnought.” If Star Fleet’s mission is exploration and peaceful contact, why refer to this class as a warship so powerful it became a namesake?

The solution comes from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and its reference to the Galaxy-class starships as “Explorers.” Even for the TNG era, the Enterprise-D and her sister ships are easily the most powerful starships in Star Fleet, and would be considered battleships in another space fleet.

I’ve decided that for CCFF, the Federation-class would be the first of Star Fleet’s “Explorer” starships. The Federation remains the first of the class, but later ships would be named after historic explorers (USS Meriwether Lewis, USS William Clark, USS Jacques Cousteau, and so forth). After The Original Series era, the Federation-class would be succeeded in the Movie Era by the Excelsior-class, then later by the Ambassador-class, the Galaxy-class and so on.

It’s not a major change, but this is one example of what I’m trying to accomplish: to impose a little more structure and consistency on the Star Trek setting. The devil is in the details, and this is one that to me makes a big difference.

Core Command: Final Frontier

(I first posted this on RPG.net back in 2013, but I plan on developing this here as a change of pace from my Heavy Gear work.)

Back in 2003, Dream Pod 9 launched a new RPG to go along with their Silhouette CORE rules called CORE Command. The intention was to create a galaxies-spanning setting along the lines of Lensman or the Andromeda TV series, I picked up the books (and contributed to one of them), but its execution was shoddy and it died a swift and merciful death. One part of the setting, though, gave me a really good idea for a Star Trek campaign.

For those who aren’t familiar, CORE Command was formed to protect known space (five galaxies altogether) from the D’Vor, a species whose mission is to destroy the very fabric of our reality and replace it with their own. It will take millions of years for the D’Vor to achieve their goals, though, giving the peoples of the galaxies time to prepare. The greatest resource in this fight to save our reality is Fractal, a planetary computer where knowledge of and strategies against the D’Vor are compiled.

The “big secret” of the setting is that Fractal is Earth. Humanity has ascended beyond the limits of the flesh and become posthuman, but when we learn of the D’Vor, plans are made to seed suitable worlds across the galaxies with the organic material and technological data necessary to build new civilizations capable of fighting the D’Vor when the time comes.

You know some of those plans would be put together by Star Trek fans. In effect, we become the Metrons, the Organians, and the Q.

I like this particular backstory for a few reasons:
– It provides a ready-made campaign push – “The D’vor (or one of their allies) are threatening (the Alpha Quadrant / Earth / what have you)!” There’s no need to use the Borg all the time.
– It freely allows GMs to divorce Star Trek continuity from our history, so it no longer matters that the Eugenics Wars were supposed to happen over 20 years ago;
– It’s not that much of a leap from canon anyway, as seen in the ST:TNG episode “The Chase;” and
– Since this is “the ultimate spinoff,” any deviations from canon can be explained as being part of CORE Command: Final Frontier, and not necessarily Star Trek. For instance, I would completely reset the hull numbers for the Constitution-class, and rewrite the history of the Federation-class Dreadnought as the first of Star Fleet’s Explorers.

More to come as things develop.