The World of The Gunny

The Wasted World of Gunnery Sergeant DeShane
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 Post subject: Introduction to Beyond the Stars!
PostPosted: 12 Jun 2007 13:59 
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Sergeant Major of the USMC
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[1.5] BACKGROUND


[1.51] COSMOLOGY

For everything, there is a season: Existence is cyclic in nature. To the unenlightened it might seem that life has an end. It begins with birth, and appears to conclude with death. Yet energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed: Nothing that lives ever truly dies. Summer follows Spring, just as Winter follows Autumn, yet with the passing of Winter, Spring returns and the world is born anew for those who survive the chill embrace of entropy. In the same manner is a universe born, to cycle through its seasons toward decay and destruction. Yet even as the last light fades to darkness, a new universe is born.

At the heart of that rebirth, the source of all that exists, there burns a fire that never dies. It is the crucible of creation from which each new universe emerges. The Flame of the Creator. Yet creation is a perpetual process, for it never truly ends. Even as the oldest universes fade and die, expanding outward toward their ultimate decline, new universes grow and flourish, expanding through their own seasons of Spring, Summer, and Autumn, all the way back to the fires of creation at the heart of everything that is.

Sages throughout history have seen a portion of this truth. The 'Enlightenment' within their meditations are an analogy for the process of birth, death, and rebirth that defines existence. The outer dark, which they label Gehenna, are the old, dying universes, fading into final darkness. The inner light, those they call Elysium, are new universes expanding outward from the Flame of Creation. Wedged between the old and the new is the universe in which we live. Our universe has reached maturity, the Summer of its seasons. Yet one day, it too will die, yielding to the universes yet to come.


[1.52] GEHENNA

What happens to a universe as it dies? Entropy is the enemy of all the lives. Each universe is a closed system, infused with a finite amount of energy at the moment of its inception. Each universe is inherently chaotic, yet order emerges from that chaos as matter and energy interact, forming complex systems that become stars, worlds, and living things. Yet in the end, chaos always wins. The very energy that fuels life within a universe also spells its doom, for as it expands outward, its energy becomes dispersed by those same chaotic interactions that once gave rise to order within it.

As a universe expands, the knots of chaos-fueled order within it, those precious, ordered systems that sustain light and heat -and thus life- slowly break down. New orders evolve, last-ditch adaptations to stave off dissolution, yet eventually even these pass away. Over time, the matter and energy within a universe tend toward even dispersion throughout its expanse, approaching a uniform temperature of absolute zero. Darkness and cold reign unchallenged in a dying universe, a penumbral gloom that deepens with each passing aeon until nothing resembling life as we know it can even exist there.

What, then, becomes of the the sentients? The ones that remain are trapped in a dying universe, While they remain alive, as the universe dies around them, they struggle to sustain their existence through technology.

Such is the nature of Gehenna, frozen, lightless realms populated by the sentients that were unable -or unwilling- to let go of their physicality and return to the fires of creation in which they were born. Each 'level' of Gehenna represents a dying universe in a progressively advanced state of decay. The oldest universes, those farthest from the warmth and light of creation, are almost entirely dark. There dwell the most ancient of intelligences, sentients left adrift in cold and darkness for untold billions of years -and all that time- hating the warmth denied them by their own dying universe.


[1.53] DEMONS

For the sentients trapped in a dying universe, bereft of light and warmth, denied any hope of salvation, rage is the one emotion left to sustain them. Survival for these sentients is a bitter struggle, a contest to scavenge what little energy remains left to fuel their continued existence. It is a contest in which the strongest prey upon the weak, absorbing their civilizations into their own. They exist thereafter as corporate entities, many parts bound into one civilization, dominated by the will of the strongest members.

Labeled 'demons' by the Religions of man, these entities are unimaginably ancient, the leftover husks of life that have existed for countless billions of years in a universe that has long since become cold, lightless hells. They are utterly lacking in the finer sentiments that once gave them pleasure as sentients. Now, all they know is anger, and an abiding hunger for energy and flesh -in particular, the rich, sweet life-essences of other sentients. The oldest of these sentients, those that dwell in the farthest reaches of Gehenna, are know as the Dark Ones, and are incredibly powerful, consisting of the combined energy of billions of sentients.

Yet as much as they crave energy, they are vulnerable to the light and warmth of a living universe. The entropic matter of which their technologies are composed acts like a sponge, soaking up energy from all around it; when a 'demon' is summoned into a living universe, its very presence drains the life force from all around it. If it and it's technology absorbs too much energy at once, the entity weakens, and its tech components might well gain sufficient energy to explode, killing the sentient. This is why the 'demons' usually require a host to transmit their thoughts if they are to abide long among the living universe, leaving behind their entropic flesh and technology as they use the host like a puppet.

The motives of such ancient beings are difficult to fathom. Some hunger for the life force of sentients that abide in a universe that still thrives. Others are eager to escape the chill prisons in which they dwell and live again in a warm, living universe. Still others have more ambitious plans. The oldest, most powerful 'demons' seek to invade Elysium itself, to manipulate the process of creation and build a universe in which they could thrive eternally. If they were to succeed in such a plan, creation itself might well be undone, and all that lives would be enslaved to the demons' insatiable hungers.


[1.54] ANGELS

At the opposite end of the spectrum from the 'demons' are the 'angelic' intelligences of Elysium. These entities are likewise incredibly ancient, refugees of universes that grew cold countless billions of years ago, but they represent the sentients that were able to transcend the material world and approach the heart of creation. Having shed the limitations of their physical bodies, these beings achieved a form of immortality as pure energy. Along with it, they acquired wisdom and understanding inaccessible to sentients whose perspective remains constrained by physicality.

Unlike the 'demons', the Elysian intelligences are individuals rather than collectives. The power they wield derives not from the harvested life energy of many sentients, but from their affinity with the engine of creation itself. The Elysian 'levels' are young universes still in the process of being born, ablaze with energy and light shed by the Flame of Creation. Whereas 'demons' are entropic by nature, draining life from all around them, the Elysian intelligences are inherently ectropic: their effect on the living universe is restorative, and healing. The 'Demons' are driven by selfish hunger, but the Elysians are selfless by nature.

Some Elysians, having achieved transcendence, feel obligated to help other sentients follow in their footsteps. Through the aeons, these intelligences have assumed the role of guides, nudging developing species toward the spiritual enlightenment required to attain transcendence. The sentients they seek to teach, still rooted in material concerns, often fail to get the message right. Throughout history, they have labeled these beings gods and angels, ascribing to them motives and agendas based more on the cultural imperatives of the sentients themselves than anything the Elysians find worthy.

Other Elysians, recognizing the danger posed by the dark designs of the demons, have taken it upon themselves to safeguard creation. Should the demons succeed in reaching the engine of creation, they might rewrite the rules as new universes are born, creating realms of darkness where their savage hungers might be sated for eternity. Ignorant sentients, in their quest for worldly power, might unwittingly aid the demons in achieving this end. For this reason, the guardian Elysians take a dim view of sentients that meddle in occult matters beyond their limited understanding.


[1.55] THE ELOHIM

The Gods that humankind has labeled 'Sumerian' were in fact a confederation of ancient races, spanning thousands of worlds in the Milky Way galaxy. The oldest races among the Elohim achieved space travel over 500,000 years ago, and began to explore the galaxy in search of other sentients. Some species, deemed too primitive, were left alone to develop further. Others, more advanced, were invited to share in the technology and wisdom of the Elohim. Thus did the confederation grow over hundreds of thousands of years, until it included thousandss of different species.

As Elohim technology advanced, they gained a deeper understanding of the nature of creation. They had already discovered long ago that there was more to the universe than what was visible to material senses. Eventually, the Elohim learned how to tap into the aether or 'Dark Energy' that underlies all of creation, fed by the fires of the Flame of Creation itself. The greatest artifacts of the Elohim, such as the Apollonian Gateways, drew their power from the aether. With time, the Elohim even learned how to impose patterns upon the aether, turning it into a vast engine that could be manipulated by the power of the mind without resort to technology.

When the Elohim crossed this barrier, blurring the line between mind and matter, they discovered that living things imposed their own 'patterns' upon the aether. Those patterns lived on after the death of the physical body. The Elohim had unwittingly stumbled upon the nature of the soul. The realization that souls lived on after death had disturbing implications. The existence of Gehenna, discovered as Elohim science probed the inner and outer reaches of the multiverse, was even more troubling. To the Elohim, the notion of living on as a raging sentient trapped by their technology in a cold, dying universe was horrific in the extreme.

Elohim civilization became divided over how to deal with the nature of life, and the eternal soul. Most of the elder races, having thrived for hundreds of millennia, were relatively content with the notion of pursuing transcendence through spiritual growth. Yet some Elohim, through their communications with demonkind, became aware of the possibility that creation itself might conceivably be hijacked through technology. If they could penetrate to the heart of Elysium, the Flame of Creation itself, they might re-write the laws of nature as new universes were born, thus creating realms in which they could live forever in physical form.


[1.56] THE WAR OF THE GODS

The notion of eternal life held great appeal among the younger races of the Elohim, who had had less time in the sun than their elders. As the older races bent their efforts toward cultivating enlightenment among sentients, so that all might transcend physicality, the younger races demanded that the combined resources of Elohim civilization be applied toward research into new technologies that would allow them to penetrate the barriers between universes and probe the very heart of creation. The rift between these two factions deepened, until Elohim civilization stood on the brink of civil war.

The galaxy’s greatest civilization was pushed over the edge of that precipice by a disturbing revelation. In secret, the younger Elohim, soon to be called the Nephilim, had pushed forward a project to build a mighty machine that could turn the power of the aether against itself, boring a hole through reality to reach the heart of creation itself. Powered by the source of creation, this machine, which its builders called the Eye of God, could literally punch a hole into Elysium and rewrite the laws of the universe. The younger Elohim hoped to wield that power to create a reality in which physical death no longer occurred. They believed that eternal life was within reach.

The elder Elohim could not allow this plan to come to fruition. Their own studies of existence, guided by tenuous contacts with Elysian intelligences, suggested that the Eye of God would not rebuild the universe, but break the barrier between Gehenna and their universe, allowing the Dark Ones in to destroy all that live within it. Worse yet, there was a chance that the device, if activated, might well upset all of creation. For a hole bored into the heart of Gehenna would leave the living universes susceptible to having all of their energy siphoned off and leading them into the cold hell of entropy that was Gehenna. The elders demanded that their erstwhile proteges cease and desist. The response of the younger Elohim was succinct; they staged a surprise attack against the core worlds of their rivals. Truly becoming Nephilim, the fallen ones.

The war between the Elohim and the Nephilim would last millennia, and spanned across thousands of worlds. The advanced technologies of the Elohim, perverted to serve the cause of violence, produced horrific engines of destruction. Planetary populations were annihilated in the blink of an eye, entire species rendered extinct, as conflict raged from one end of the Apollonian Gateway network to the other. One side would gain an edge for a time, but neither could hold onto its advantage for long. A civilization that had taken hundreds of millennia to build was bleeding itself to death, the work of generations cast unto a galaxy-sized funeral pyre.


[1.57] TWILIGHT OF THE GODS

In a quest for new allies, the Nephilim began to accelerate the evolution of lesser sentients, those once deemed too primitive to be tampered with until they had evolved further. The Elohim had no choice but to take similar steps, intervening in the development of many species to ensure they were not corrupted to serve the ends of the rebel Nephilim. These lesser races became pawns as the war raged on. The tide slowly turned against the Nephilim, their newfound allies unable to shift the balance. Finally, in desperation, they called upon their erstwhile advisors in Gehenna: They unleashed the Dark Ones upon their foes.

The conflict attained new, unimaginable levels of horror as savage beasts from the dark descended upon unsuspecting worlds, draining them of life essence to feed their insatiable hungers and leaving behind dead husks. Yet all was not lost, for the guardian Elysians could not sit idly by and ignore this atrocity that threatened to upset the balance of creation. They intervened for the first time, lending their aid to the Elohim to help them drive back the demons and seal them back in Gehenna. Even as the Elohim secured this victory, however, the rebels struck one final blow against their enemies.

The Nephilim devised an insidious weapon based on the entropic qualities of Gehenna; a weapon able to snuff out entire star systems. The entropy weapon derived from the same principles that had allowed the Elohim to impose patterns upon the aether. Yet instead of creating engines to be harnessed by the power of the mind, the entropy weapon reprogrammed the gateways to drain energy from the universe -from all living things, and even the stars themselves- and dissipate that energy back into the aether. The rebels unleashed their entropy weapon upon the elder Elohim, using the Gateways as a delivery device.

By the time the stars of their worlds began to darken, it was too late to avert catastrophe. The machines that allowed them to repattern the aether were the first to fall to the entropy effect, and their technology, powered by that same dark energy, accelerated the drain of energy that was killing their stars. Yet the Nephilim had sealed their own doom as well, for the weapon began to affect their star systems to. In desperation, both sides sealed their Gateways one by one, hoping to hold the entropy effect at bay. Those worlds died alone, in darkness, leaving only distant outposts of the Elohim to be spared.

By the time humanity discovered the Gateways in the solar system, the Elohim had been gone for over five thousand years. Yet in the span of galactic history, that was little more than an eyeblink. In truth, as humankind spread outward across the Gateway System, they were treading upon battlefields where the ashes were still warm. For the most part, the human colonists were oblivious to the devastation they had been spared. Yet some, the more perceptive among them, were sensitive to the psychic resonances left behind by the war of the Gods.


[1.58] THE FALL OF MAN

For a time, it seemed, the majority of human beings heeded the call as they explored the Gateways and settled worlds far from Earth, the planet that gave them birth. Rapid technological advances, following in the wake of political emancipation, opened the door to possibilities unforeseen in the past.

Sadly, in their race to replicate the more practical aspects of Elohim and Nephilim technology, humanity skipped over many essential scientific paradigms they would have discovered had they pursued pure research on their own. Without these theoretical underpinnings, human researchers were all but unaware of the larger multiverse beyond that which is accessible to mundane senses. They stumbled along blindly, ignorant of the truths that might inspire humanity -and oblivious to the dangers that awaited in the farther reaches of the cosmos.

The selfish pursuit of personal gratification only served to alienate human beings from each other, turning them away from the enlightenment that would help them discover the spark of divinity within themselves. Worse still, corporations, driven by greed, indulged in callous experimentation that cheapened the value of human life, casting a taint upon the souls of all who were involved. Human civilization had taken a turn down a dark road.

As human civilization slowly succumbed to its corruption, the coup de grace for this vacuous age was sealed by the greed of a few. A secret cabal of corporate leaders and politicians had made contact with Demonic intelligences from Gehenna, having turned toward the occult to advance their personal agenda. Theirs was the last in a long series of betrayals darkening the human soul. Lured by the promise of fabulous Elohim technology beyond their wildest imaginings, the conspirators organized an expedition to what the demons promised was an Elohim homeworld, its riches left undisturbed for thousands of years.

For the demons, deception is integral to their nature. The riches were there, to be sure, but they neglected to mention the dangers involved. The cabal's expedition jumped to what was once an Elohim colony: Its star was a dull burnt out cinder, and over a planet that had been home to teeming billions that was now a lifeless husk hung an immense structure that looked very much like a giant doorway. As the team collected a number of intriguing artifacts, they noticed that their equipment was slowly failing -including the ship's systems. In passing through the Apollonian gate, they had unwittingly reactivated the long-dormant Eye of God and entropy weapon. Surrendering to panic, the expedition fled back to human space.

In so doing, they allowed the Eye to activate and open a doorway into Gehenna, which in turn, allowed the Dark Ones into the living universe. Once the entropy effect and the Dark Ones escaped their long confinement, they spread quickly from gate to gate throughout the Human Federation.

The Dark Ones are from one of the oldest universes in Gehenna. Their original universe had grown dim and cold and it's age is beyond comprehension. Their homeworld is unknown, and they vary in size from two to five yards in height. They are primarily an oxygen-breathing species that originated from an oxygen-based planet but can survive in a variety of atmospheres, ranging from oxygen to methane to ammonia-based. The creatures are a cybernetic composite organism, very intelligent and very hostile. All of them are telepathic, but they have exhibited a wide vocal range. The telepaths of the living universes are never able to directly communicate with them. They believe that the ‘frequency’ the Dark Ones use is very different from known telepathy encountered anywhere else. They can influence the emotions of others and in some cases making those under their influence to obey generalized orders. However again nobody ever discovered any evidence of directed communication to influence any of the sentients in a living universe. The experts believed that they are more projected empaths when it comes to cross species telepathic communication.

Their DNA coding was the most complex ever seen. The species has a carbon-based triple helix configuration. And as their enemies have seen, the huge aliens have definite flight characteristics, in many ways the juvenile form reminds one superficially of a Terran Deinonichus dinosaur. It has appendages, two sets of them and a mouth-like structure not unlike a Terran alligator. The adult forms develop thick scaly hides and take on a more Terran bipedal Dragon-like form. Whether juvenile or adult both are apex predators able to eat a huge variety of protein forms. They can generate appendages using them as weapons as necessary.

They have three sets of large coal-black eyes near the top of their scaled heads. The skin of the creatures itself seemed to blend into the surrounding environments, a sort of camouflage, but the species’ body temperature is almost twelve degrees higher than Terrans. The Dark Ones communicate by telepathy and by the use of chromatophores. These light-generating organs allow them to communicate as easily as we utilize speech. Using telepathy in conjunction with their light emitting skin cells, it is virtually impossible to decipher their complex language unless they want us to.

They fell upon mankind with a relish for slaughter that made most go mad with terror. For the Dark Ones not only slaughtered men by the billions but also consumed the flesh of all who were unfortunate enough to fall into their hands. Nothing men did made any difference, world after world fell into their ravenous maws. No weapon and no tactic could stop them, some victories slowed them at times, but never for very long and their advance would begin anew. After three millenia the Dark Ones arrived in the sector of Mankind's birthworld. The decision to send out colony ships, that did not use the Gateways, in a desperate bid to escape the demons was made. Sleeper ships were dispatched off the known Gateways, since it was felt that if the homeworld did not know of their existence, the demons would not either. The thousands of ships were launched, many knowing that the chances of ever coming across a world they could colonize was slim at best. Yet not one volunteer changed their minds, for they knew they were probably mankinds last best hope for survival.

Centuries more passed and the demons inched ever closer to Terra. No man or woman ever let despair overcome them. They knew for every year that they held off the demons they gave the sleepers one more year to either find a world or one more to advance humanity's knowledge, hoping against hope that they would find a way to finally defeat the demons.

If the Elohim had failed to defeat the entropy weapon, what hope did the most brilliant minds of the Federation have of finding a solution? They were dealing with a larger universe than their theories allowed for, with qualities to which they had been blinded by their own short-sightedness. The human religions declared that the Creator was destroying the universe as punishment for humanity's sins: This was disturbingly close to the mark, but in truth humankind's suffering was wrought by its own ignorance.

The entropic destruction of the stars was the final salvo in a war fought millennia ago - a war in which humanity was to be the last casualty. Ironically, the universe beyond the Gateways was safe, for only stars with Apollonian Gateways were affected by the entropy weapon. Distant stars seemed to dim because their light was sapped of energy as it entered the localized entropy effect. Yet even had humankind possessed that knowledge it would do them little good. Every world known to have been settled by human beings had been reached via Apollonian Gateways, and humanity lacked the means to cross the interstellar void to reach other stars.

When the Federation finally fell, brought down by the slaughter unleashed by the avarice and corruption of its leaders, the stars of human space were already beginning to darken. The scientists of the Federation were unable to explain the phenomenon, for it operated according to principles beyond their grasp. The nature of Gehenna was alien to their understanding of the universe.


[1.59] A DARK AGE

In the deepening twilight, as the stars of human space slowly dimmed, things other than the Dark Ones came creeping in from the night. As the entropy effect wrought its damage upon each star system, it became easier for these foul things to slip into the living universe from Gehenna. The dead began to walk, and unclean things rose from the shadows. To the superstitious masses, shivering in the growing dark, it seemed as if everything their places of worship had told them was coming to pass. In a very real sense, this was not far from the truth.

For the Dark Ones, whose enmity is bounded by neither time nor sentiment, the human race was just another step in their grand game to conquer Creation. They had used the rebel Nephilim to further their ends, and they would sacrifice humanity without shedding a tear. The technology of the Elohim could open the way to all of the living universes, and many of their artifacts were still out there, waiting to be discovered and reactivated. By robbing humanity of hope, by feeding into its baser instincts with promises of material rewards, they might manipulate humankind into unwittingly placing that technology in their grasp.


[1.5.1] A RESCUE

One day a stranger appeared on Terra and offered a solution to the problem of the demons. He told the Human leaders he had a bio-toxin that would slay every living sentient, including the demons, that was currently hooked into the Gateway system. The only problem was that it would kill all of humanity in the process. He left the decision in the hands of Humanity's leaders and said he would be back in three days for the answer. For three days the messages flew through the VLCA network. When the third day arrived every human world that was still unoccupied by the demons had agreed. Stop the demons now, at any cost and trust to the Creator to look after the sleeper ships as humanity's hope for survival.

On the third day the stranger reappeared and politely asked if they had made a decision. He was informed that all human worlds left had agreed, what ever the cost the demons had to be stopped. As he pulled out a flask and before he uncorked it he was asked one question, "Why, why are you helping us?"

"Because I could not allow my children to be wiped from the stars, and as a father I had to act to help some of them survive." Tears welled in his eyes as he continued, "I am sorry, but given the speed in which they overcame you this was the only solution the Elohim could come up with." The gasps from the onlookers told the stranger they were shocked to see their 'creator' before them. He answered one more question, "What is your name?"

He smiled a sad smile and said, "Enki, time to sleep my children." And pulled the stopper on the flask. When all in the room closed their eyes for the last time he whispered, "We will see one another again," and disappeared.

The virus leapt from world to world with the speed of thought. As a last desperate measure the demons destroyed world after world, and finally made a decision to close the doorway from Gehenna into human space. They chose to lose the trillions of their kind caught in human space rather than die as a species. Thus Gehenna was once again closed off from the rest of the multiverse.


[1.5.11] HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

In the War of the Gods the entropy effect had killed the Elohim quickly, amplified by the degree to which their technology had modified the aether near their homeworlds. The one hope of the sleeper worlds is that it might take millennia to destroy the relatively pristine star systems that had once been mere outposts of their civilization. Giving them time to find a counter to the entropy weapon, and allowing them to drive the demons back to Gehenna and destroy the dooway, sealing them in for all time.

Given time, might humanity succeed where the Elohim had failed, and defeat this insidious weapon and finally be able to rid the universe of the demons? The past holds no answers, for the science of the Federation had taken a wrong turn down a dead end road to depend upon the Gateways. Alas, on many worlds the sleepers have colonized the hope for future innovation seems dim: The religions of man on most of the sleeper worlds have deemed science anathema and progress had been abandoned.

The only recourse, according to those various religions, is to set one's soul in order before facing final judgement. If a few brave worlds can rise above the ignorance and apathy of their fellows, to quest beyond the comforting solidity of the Gateways in which they dwell, they might yet discover the answers are waiting out there Beyond the Stars!

There may yet be hope for the human race.



[1.6] INTRODUCTION

Beyond the Stars! is a unique 4X game due to its inherent freedom to design you Power as you see fit. For example, it does not assign any intrinsic benefits to centrally planned economies over free markets. Any such distinctions are made in your description of your Power, and how you practically play it.

Thus, if you wish a police state, you should start with in a large number of Secret Police and Informers, or if you want a free trade economy, you should let others invest in your nation, have a large merchant fleet and make plenty of Trade Goods. There are some Advantages and Disadvantages that can be used to further define a Power, but the specific angle those take is still up to you. For example a Fanatical Population could be the result of a bunch of indoctrinated, ignorant peasants ordered to die for the Fatherland, or it could also be the result of a free society who see themselves as the greatest civilization in the galaxy and will defend their freedom to the death.

In the end, it's all up to you, and how you physically construct and play your Power . Freedom of choice, not restrictions, is what Beyond the Stars! is all about. Have fun in designing and playing your Power, and welcome to the fascinating universe of Beyond the Stars!


[1.61] How the Game is Played

Players assume the role of government or corporate leaders and try to survive and prosper. The players can expand the influence of their power by exploring star systems, establishing colonies, and if need be, exterminating their rivals. They can also forge alliances, research technology, and discover artifacts from the War of the Gods to enhance their position.

The game system is moderated by a neutral player know as the game master or GM. The game setting is open ended and can form the basis for a long term campaign setting. To that end, Beyond the Stars! is a collection of rules that can be played as is or tweaked by a game master to create a custom setting.

The standard game uses two types of maps, a map showing the Apollonian Gatway Network, or if a power is using a FTL form of engine a flat hexagon grid map to represent the region of space in which the game is set in. Each sector of the game map is 100 columns wide and 100 rows deep. Smaller or larger maps are possible, and in custom settings are usually quite a bit smaller or larger. Each hex on the standard FTL map is two parsecs (about 6.52 light years is size) across. The hex grid is used to regulate non-Apollonian Gate movement and simplify fleet placement. The Apollonian Gateway Network has no analogy in Newtonian space. Only the star systems connected is represented. It’s also possible to use realistic star map data for campaign settings centered on our solar system.


[1.62] The Progression of a Month

Beyond the Stars! is played in monthly 'turns'. Each standard month is 30 days long although some smaller actions might be broken down into weekly time periods. Using standard values helps to regulate movement and construction schedules. At the beginning of each Month the players consult their status reports and see how much wealth, fuel, raw materials, and research their infrastructure has produced during the previous turn. The player must then decide how to allocate these - and their industrial production points - assets to various projects and plans during the month. These can be committed to building new infrastructure, building or extending roads, raising troops, improving the lot of the people, researching technologies, building various facilities and many other activities.

The player then decides what orders to issue to their spies, their inventors and their military. Spies may ferret out the secrets of their neighbors, protect the power from enemy spies, or attempt to suborn their enemies and cause their downfall through devious plots. The inventors may spread the word of new inventions, help improve the infrastructure or help crush the enemies of their power. The armies, navies, and air forces may defend the power or carry the brand of war against their neighbors, gaining the power more land, people and wealth in taxes or loot. So to can agents be sent out to negotiate with the neighboring powers and petty lords to try and get them to ally themselves with the player’s power, thus expanding their influence and power.

Each player then submits to the Game Master (GM) a set of orders for their power that relates to what that player is attempting to accomplish. In the back of the rules you can find simple forms that detail the player’s resources and production. Electronic versions of these control sheets are also available for download from the CDG website. Most events such as shipbuilding and R&D happen at the end of the month while ship movement and other actions can happen over the course of the month. In the case of conflict, the GM will moderate the results and post the results. The GM then resolves the actions, which are then summarized in a GNN News Report highlighting the major activities of all the campaign's powers. Finally, each player receives a copy of the GNN news report, and a status report, which details the status of their particular power at the end of that month.

Using the information supplied in the GNN news report and the status report, the player prepares a new set of orders for the next month to be submitted to the GM, thus completing the cycle of play. Beyond the Stars! lends itself well to PBEM (play by e-mail). During this process, the information is posted in the Galactic News Network thread. Next, the GM updates the power's statistics to reflect new construction, regions won and lost, and all investments. Finally, the status reports get any e-mail address and Chat information changes and each player then has an update posted in their private forum containing their status report, a copy of the GNN News and any communications sent by other players.

Each GNN News report will note the deadline by which the next monthly set of orders is due. If the GM receives orders after this deadline, the GM can process or not process the late orders at his discretion (usually not). This simple interaction is the core of the game system, but most of the enjoyment that players derive from play is from the interaction between one another. As a matter of fact, contact between the players is actually heartily encouraged, the reasoning behind the chatrooms, if not always necessary. Notes passed on by the GM, through direct mail, telephone, or email can make such contact.


[1.7] NATIONS AND MEGA-CORPORATIONS

[1.71]Nation Introduction

As a Nation in Beyond the Stars! you are in charge of an entire state, including its economy, industry, military, politics, even down to its individual citizens. These states may be anything from a single city in a small corner of one planet, to a vast Nation sprawling over an entire world, and the space beyond. They can be sole masters of their domain, or they can share it with rival nations or allied countries.

Nations are the standard a player can start with in Beyond the Stars!, but commensurate with that power they require a great deal of work to run properly. It can be quite challenging to manage a nation state and players who take a Nation should be prepared to make a significant investment in running their Power. The upside is that a Nation gives you the ability to be a real mover and shaker in galactic affairs, and Nations form the core around which most of the events in the game occur.


[1.72] Nations and Defeat

The Beyond the Stars! galaxy is not a friendly place, and while Nations are the prime movers and shakers, your Nation could well end up being the one getting shaken, rather than the one doing the shaking. The potential for defeat and reversal exists, and sometimes you will have to accept very bad things happening to your Nation if a risky gamble fails, or a particularly nasty event happens to you.

In these dark times it helps to remember that no matter how bad things are, simply giving up is not going to make things better. Throwing up your hands in frustration and turning turtle is an excellent way to ensure the worst possible outcome. Rolling with the punches and coming out swinging is often the best way out, for things are sometimes not as dark as they seem and for those who fight on help can often come from unexpected quarters. Even if the situation is so dire that no attack, no matter how good can save your Nation, an epic, well played Goetterdammerueng will let you go out in style, and give you a very favorable consideration for bonus points towards a new replacement Nation.


[1.73] Nations and Their Player Characters

Nations are large, impersonal things. Throughout the course of the game you may feel compelled to personalize your nation by creating named characters and units through whose eyes you can show the events your Power is involved in. This makes for a more interesting story, and gives other players a better feel for your Power. These named characters can be politicians, local citizens, or military soldiers or officers. Of course any named soldiers have to be with units that you actually possess; you can't use an ace fighter pilot as a named character unless you have an actual Fighter squadron from which this character could come.

You can create as many named characters as you like, however while they may often be the heroes of the stories you tell about your Nation, they will not actually be Heroes in the actual play of Beyond the Stars!.

Still, while they do not possess abilities as such, it can be annoying and unnecessary to write up new named characters every time a battle goes badly, so you can choose to have key characters suffer the effects of casualties last. For example, if a squadron of fighters with your named character are blown out of the stars with only one survivor, you can choose to have the named character be in the single plane that escaped, or if all were shot down, he might have successfully bailed out. Alternately, since stories are usually written after combat results are determined, you can simply choose not to have your named character have been part of a battle that turned into a massacre, if it would have been logical for him not to take part, and only have him present in battles that were glorious victories!

The lives of named characters are not always guaranteed, and sometimes due to overwhelming defeat, or perhaps a dramatic story (such as a climactic duel between rival aces), they may still be killed. This can be particularly the case for high profile named characters who are also unique units, like the admiral and crew of a powerful Super-Battleship, or the Mad Scientist of a prominent University, but even a named character who is just a private in an army of millions can sometimes have his number come up. The above rule exists only to prevent gratuitous assassination of a Power's named characters.


[1.81] Mega-Corps Introduction

As a Mega-Corps you are in charge of a powerful non-governmental organization, be it a vast corporation, a seedy criminal syndicate, a wandering mercenary army, or a secretive society, or one of a score of other potential options.

At the start of the game, a Mega-Corps has less absolute power than a Nation, having to pay more for Infrastructure and other startup costs, but a Mega-Corps' big advantage is that it can spread across multiple worlds, and from that diverse base can build and expand much faster. While most Nations will be able to destroy a Mega-Corps' holdings in their particular bailiwick if they so choose, the depth of resources held by these groups could make such a move incredibly unwise in the long term.

Additionally, the benefits of national co-operation with a Mega-Corps are not to be discarded lightly. While they may lack the all-purpose power of a Nation, Mega-Corps' have unique abilities Nations do not, often specializing in a particular area where they can achieve far greater skill than any Nation. In fact, Nations will often try to gain an alliance with a Mega-Corps, offering them safe havens in return for exclusive services. While valuable, this does come with a downside, as a Mega-Corps that becomes too friendly with one Nation may end up antagonizing that Nation's enemies.

All this means is that a Mega-Corps also requires perhaps the most work to run properly. Rather than being concerned about the affairs of one world, or a localized area of the galaxy, a far-flung Mega-Corps can often find themselves embroiled in multiple separate events, and caught up in complex inter-planetary intrigues and conflicts. This can mean great opportunity to keep yourself involved with the major game events, no matter where they may be occurring, but it also requires greater effort to fully exploit. While Mega-Corps' do not usually try to be the focus of the story, they are often the shadowy presence in the background, observing, manipulating, and profiting from the game of Nations.


[1.82] Mega-Corps' and Defeat

As has been mentioned, the Beyond the Stars! galaxy is not an especially friendly place, and while Mega-Corps' often strive for neutrality, there will often come a time when conflict is unavoidable. As with Nations, the potential for defeat and reversal exists, and sometimes you will have to accept very bad things happening to your Mega-Corps should one of your schemes fail, or even if events completely out of your control draw you into a war.

Unlike a Nation, a Mega-Corps is rarely threatened in its entirety, and even when the Mega-Corps itself is the direct target of aggression (rather than one of its bases being caught up by unhappy proximity), few enemies have the reach to strike all of a Mega-Corps' holdings.

Thus Mega-Corps' can often disengage from local setbacks and recoup their losses with their phenomenal expansion rates elsewhere. As a Mega-Corps you should accept the fact that some of your bases may well become casualties, or may have to be abandoned when prudence wins out over pride, but keep in mind that there is always tomorrow and few defeats are lasting for a truly determined Mega-Corps.


[1.83] Mega-Corps' and Their Player Characters

Mega-Corps' often have their fingers in many pies, and can benefit from showing their perspective in local affairs first hand. Throughout the course of the game you may feel compelled to personalize stories by creating named characters through whose eyes you can show the events your Power is involved in. This makes for more interesting stories, and gives other players a better feel for your Power. These named characters can be CEOs, local employees, field agents, security personnel, or any other person who might exist in the ranks of your organization. Of course any named soldiers must have units that you actually possess; you can't use an ace test pilot as a named character unless you have an actual Air unit from which this character could come.

You can create as many named characters as you like, however while they may often be the heroes of the stories you tell about your Mega-Corps, they will not actually be heroes in The Stars Beckon! sense of the term. While in the stories they may be depicted as better than the average soldier, their abilities do not actually exceed those of any other unit with the same stats, and naming a character proffers no physical benefits.

Still, while they do not possess abilities as such, it can be annoying and unnecessary to write up new named characters every time a battle goes badly, so you can choose to have key characters suffer the effects of casualties last. For example, if a squadron of pilots testing a prototype fighter with your named character are shot down with only one survivor, you can choose to have the named character be in the single plane that escaped, or if all were shot down, he might have successfully bailed out. Alternately, since stories are usually written after combat results are determined, you can simply choose not to have your named character have been part of a battle that turned into a massacre, if it would have been logical for him not to take part, and only have him present in battles that were glorious victories!

The lives of named characters are not always guaranteed, and sometimes due to overwhelming defeat, or perhaps a dramatic story (such as a climactic duel between rival aces), they may still be killed. This can be particularly the case for high profile named characters who are also unique units, like the admiral and crew of a powerful Super-Battleship, or the Oracle of a prominent temple, but even a named character who is just a private in an army of millions can sometimes have his number come up. The above rule exists only to prevent gratuitous assassination of a Power's named characters.


[1.9] A Note About Rules Implementation

This rulebook, and its companions, present the basic rules for a Beyond the Stars! campaign. However, each player must be aware that their Game Master (in any campaign) may add, subtract or even interpret these rules differently from any other Game Master. This is their perogative and right. Your Game Master will, however, inform you of any changes or interpretations that they make to the basic rules.

You should always consider your campaign’s Game Master’s word to be natural law.

_________________
Benno the Mad Wrote:
man, you gotta realise that thor and bos fell out of the patriot tree (like the ugly tree, but instills patriotism instead of ugly) and hit every branch on the way down.


"Gone now, dispersed by the brutal destruction of this one day, was the belief that the Darkman and his army of the dead were so superior as to be invincible. By attempting to destroy the morale of the Marines, the Darkman had restored it to full vigor. Dia De La Muerto had failed in its objectives."
The Gunny: Stand of the 300

Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you want peace, prepare for war

Gunny's color #FF2400


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