Orders deadline: Friday Midnight GMT (6th March) Hello and welcome to the sixth official DaftNES. This is a ‘galaxy sandbox’ game, inspired mainly by GalaxyNES, Swirly Lights Yonder, as well as the computer game Stellaris. In this project, I want to give players more creative freedom, and take more time to listen to their input. There will be stats and rules, but I want the focus to be much more on events and worldbuilding. This is a universe that is tolerant of some exotic forms of life, and is a little fuzzy around the subject of technology. You may also encounter psionic powers, and strange interdimensional phenomena. Yet, this is still a universe with physics and internal logic. There will be rebellions, revolutions and NPC invasions to either join with or fight against... What we know about the Galaxy It’s an average-sized spiral galaxy in a universe about 14 billion years old, in a fairly average part of the universe. Several more galaxies lie close by, in relative terms.. Our galaxy is teeming with intelligent life, though not quite as much as it once was. About 15,000 years ago, a ‘Crisis’ occured, perhaps just the most recent of several previous disasters. Details are not clear, but it seems something swept through the galaxy like a plague during a time of epic warfare between rival alliances. It is no exaggeration to say that entire worlds were torn apart in the process; the devastation and horror were apparently enough to send many of the ancient races fleeing from the physical realm altogether, transcending into higher planes of existence. The survivors of pre-Crisis civilisation fall into two camps: hardened survivalist bastions, deliberately cut off from the outside galaxy, versus shattered and traumatised enclaves, hanging on amidst crumbling remnants of their former civilization. But space being as big as it is, countless worlds remained off the radar even during the high of pre-Crisis civilization, and it seems only a fraction were ever substantially colonised; ultimately it seems the Crisis spared far more worlds than it claimed. Time has moved on, and many new intelligent races have been following a call towards the stars over the past millennia. One by one they have begun to break the bonds first of gravity, and then of classical physics itself, discovering how to glide their vessels through the boundary between the physical dimension and higher planes of existence. These new races often know or care little about what went before them. Much debris from pre-Crisis civilization still exists, though the fragments of high technology are often so advanced as to be hardly recognisable as such, even to those races that have conquered the laws of physics and achieved Faster Than Light (FTL) travel. Indeed, this is where technology and mysticism seem to collide. As the energy fields of FTL drives reach further into the planes of existence beyond the physical in the search of ever-greater speeds, they unknowingly intrude into a realm of energy and disembodied consciousness, rippling with collective psionic energy. Veteran interstellar voyagers sometimes report having lucid visions, and even experiencing paranormal activity aboard ship. Some individuals seem especially sensitive to these energies. Only some, or none of this will actually be known to your people. That depends on how you wish to play... Stating Scenarios Newly FTL-Capable Spoiler : You’ve just reached the tech to travel Faster Than Light (FTL) and one or more experimental exploration ships have been built. Your people look with enthusiasm to the great unknown. Whether your home planet is united or divided, in good shape or a post-apocalyptic wasteland, is up to you. You could have had a rapid development of technology, or a very slow and calm progress over many millennia. Perhaps your homeworld is even an abandoned colony of an ancient race, or even an abandoned ringworld or some other kind of giant space habitat. Perhaps your world is a super-abundant paradise that has left your people somewhat lazy and naive about the universe. Perhaps your people have just fought off an alien invasion, and retro-engineered their technology. Essentially, whatever you gain or sacrifice in your starting position, will be made up for in traits and civics affecting your faction. You also have the option to play as space nomads who have completely lost or abandoned their homeworld, and start with some kind of mothership instead. Pre-FTL Spoiler : In this starting scenario, your species is still on the path to the stars. IE, you don’t mind being stuck on your homeworld for the first few turns (or at least your home system). Exactly what level of technology you are at is up to you; it could be a couple of turns before FTL is available, or you could put yourself right back at the dawn of civilization. There’s nothing stopping other races visiting your home system in the meantime. It’s essentially a handicap, but you may want to choose this for your own roleplay, and to have a unique perspective on galactic events. Besides, some of the more ‘primitive’ species may be lucky enough to have powerful ancient guardians watching over them. Tributary Spoiler : You have lived for some years as a vassal, protectorate, subject, slave, or hunted prey species of some more advanced and powerful interstellar faction. The exact nature of this is up to you to decide. Either way, this relationship has gone on long enough to have profound effects on your culture and civilization. You have copied/stolen/been gifted technology of your ‘master’, at the expense of having some of your economy siphoned off. You will not be able to gain true independence on the galactic stage without some kind of struggle, including the possibility of loyalists among your own people. If successful, you may reap the rewards of greater unity, morale, and idealism. Or, you may decide that being a vassal has its advantages. It’s up to you whether you start with one planet or several systems, or even some kind of vassal nomadic fleet; your ‘liege’ will always be somewhat stronger. Advanced Race Spoiler : Although still relatively new to space, you have had FTL capabilities for some time, and have colonised or at least explored a large chunk of your galactic neighbourhood without falling prey to any outside power. It is likely that the shocks of discovering alien life, and the initial wonder of interstellar explorations, have already come and gone. Perhaps you have established tributaries or slaves of less advanced species, or perhaps you watch over them peacefully. Or it could be that you have yet to encounter any sentient aliens. Your people may even have chosen to take to the stars permanently as space nomads, starting with several large motherships. While you start with greater technology and development, you will also have more problems; maybe you’ve encountered an equally powerful rival on your borders, or perhaps you have pirates and rebel factions to deal with. Or it may be that your culture has headed into stagnation, decline, isolationism, or some kind of existential crisis, and is now in need of a new direction… This is up to you to decide. Crumbling Ancient Spoiler : You are a direct descendent of a once mighty pre-Crisis empire, but are but a shadow of your ancestors. Perhaps your kind bore the brunt of the Crisis and were never able to recover. Perhaps you were simply an outpost that lost contact with the homeworlds. Or perhaps a large chunk of your population have been locked in hibernation for millenia, awaiting some trigger to awaken, while their life-support systems slowly deteriorate. The Crisis itself may be barely remembered, shrouded in myth, or knowledge of it may have been deliberately deleted from databanks. You have only fragments of high technology, or perhaps are reliant on the last remnants of crumbling automated systems that no longer function properly, with no way to repair them. Still, you likely have access to firepower that makes any of the younger races fear you... At least for now. And whether through the development of psionic abilities or the use of quantum devices, you have been able to peer through the veil between dimensions. Perhaps you will find a way to repair the ancient systems, or accept a regression to a more primitive but sustainable level of technology. Or perhaps you’ll feel a call to completely transcend physical reality, and leave some kind of enigmatic legacy behind for the younger races to find. In the meantime, you may see yourselves as protective guardians, rightful overlords, or seekers of peaceful isolation. Whatever the case, It is likely that the other ancient remnants will be watching you, closely. Again, playing as a nomadic race is possible, perhaps clinging to life in vast mobile craftworlds of ancient origin. Ancient Bastion (non-playable) Spoiler : Clustered around ancient homeworlds, and gigantic enigmatic structures in space, some ancients with a more survivalist mentality have been able to preserve their technology in a fully-functional state, and may have progressed from pre-Crisis level. Their motives are unclear. They may not be pleased to greet outsiders. Given their overwhelming power and knowledge, they are not open to players... Life form classifications Mechanoids Spoiler : Artificial life forms, their defining characteristic being their ability to manufacture new bodies on demand, and freely transfer information. There is little or no barrier between themselves and their technology. They may share a collective consciousness, or be individuals; they may have ‘thinking machines’ in charge of countless worker droids, or be made up of roughly equal entities. They may have tough and resilient bodies, or they may be relatively delicate, or have different castes for different jobs. They are likely to be well suited for survival in space, needing only thermal and radiation shielding. Needless to say, mechanoids do not evolve naturally. Whether these mechanoids were created relatively recently, and are still comparatively crude, or have a more arcane origin in the pre-Crisis galaxy, is up to you to decide - as is the status of their creators. When it comes to technology, mechanoids will have a natural affinity with all things mechanical and electronic. For all their advantages over other life forms, their population has a high maintenance cost in terms of energy and industrial upkeep, and tend to be less adaptive to new situations. Though completely immune to disease, they may be vulnerable to errant programs and sabotage of other kinds. Cybernetic (sub-category) Not a seperate class as such, Cybernetic species are part Mechanoid and part something else (see following sections for ideas). They will have some benefits and drawbacks of each side; it is up to you to decide exactly what the mixture is. Lithoids Spoiler : Exotic life forms that are likely to thrive in hostile environments and to be extremely tough and durable in nature. Most likely, they have a rocky appearance and are fuelled by chemical reactions and the breakdown of raw minerals, but some may be more crystalline or metallic in nature. Lithoids may originate through unlikely evolution, or as a result of pre-Crisis experiments, but otherwise follow a familiar life cycle of birth and death. They will likely have a natural affinity for chemistry, smelting and mining, and some will be fully subterranean in nature. Lithoids will likely thrive in biomes that other beings find difficult or impossible to survive in, especially where they are rich in energy or mineral resources. By the same token, they will need to consume some of these resources to survive, leaving less to spare for industry. Most other biomes will be of lesser value to them; while being resistant to hostile environments, and possibly able to survive in vacuum for extended periods, they still require special conditions to grow and reproduce. Special kinds of exotic pathogens or mineral contaminants may also afflict these life forms. Animal Spoiler : Organic life-forms based around some kind of fluid (usually water) chemistry, and a need to consume some kind of food. This category is open to a huge amount of variation, including any equivalents of insectoid, mammalian, reptilian, arthropod, avian, mollusc or sea anemone that you can think of. Some animal species may have been uplifted to sentience by outside interference, but it seems that evolution readily leads these life-forms towards tool use and civilization if given enough time. Some may not even be a single species, but rather several symbionts working together. As a general rule, animals are likely to be more rowdy, chaotic, energetic and adaptable compared to other categories of life, but also more fragile. The average preferred biome would be temperate and somewhat moist. At the extremes, a few rare species may be specialised for very hot or very cold environments and have a more exotic biochemistry. Outside of their range of habitability, animals are heavily reliant on technology and a functioning society for survival. Aerial and Aquatic Animals (sub-categories) Species that evolved to live entirely in an aquatic environment, or in dense atmospheres separated from solid ground, will have a much harder time developing advanced technology and escaping their homeworld... But it would seem that every obstacle can be overcome with enough patience, and cooperation. Such species that make it to space are likely to be older, more stable cultures, with above-average intelligence and social cohesion. They also tend to make greater use of biotechnology to fabricate needed materials. However, the spacecraft and stations of these races tend to be heavier and/or expensive, due to the extra weight and pressure of their living spaces. This is compensated for somewhat by their pilot’s natural ability for navigating full-3D environments. Aerial animals will be able to thrive in certain high-pressure atmospheres that would crush other life forms. However, all other environments will be challenging for them, requiring pressurised habitats and vehicles. Aquatic races have similar problems out of water, but may be able to populate lakes and oceans passed over by other races. Plantoid Spoiler : Life forms that derive at least part of their energy from photosynthesis. They may be a single species, or complex organisms made of several plant and animal symbionts. Some kind of pre-Crisis intervention in their evolution is likely, but it is not impossible that some have evolved sentience naturally. They may have only a few sentients ruling over lower castes, or be all free-thinking individuals. They are likely to move, think and react at a much slower pace than other life forms, or may only be capable of short bursts of activity. However, they generally have lower food and life support needs than animals, and given the right conditions, may be able to grow large numbers of new individuals at a time. They may be tough and resilient, or fragile and delicate, but will likely have strong regenerative ability. Some may also have very resilient seeds or spores, that make their populations very difficult to eradicate from a planet once established. They are likely to have an affinity for solar power generation, as well as biology and biotechnology, with much of their infrastructure being grown rather than built. Aerial and Aquatic Plantoid (sub-categories) These beings share some of the same traits as aerial and aquatic animals (see section above). For these life-forms to achieve sentience and escape their homeworlds, they may have had to overcome the most challenges of all - truly playing on ‘hard mode’ in galactic terms. Fungoid Spoiler : These beings are roughly similar to plantoids in terms of characteristics, but derive their energy from ‘dark’ sources such as decaying organic matter, or even chemosynthesis. They likely share the same affinity for biotechnology, but are likely to shun sunlight for a more subterranean existence, for at least part of their life-cycle.