Free RPG Day is coming up later this month (on June 21st), and we’re having a mini-con to coincide. In the past, I’ve gone light on running games to be available for emergencies, but the store is well staffed this year… and I’m eager to GM. (I’ve been fortunate enough to play in a few games recently; my batteries are recharged. It’s time to reciprocate.)
One of the games that I enjoyed running earlier this year was Kingdom. It was a very interesting game; though hampered by a shorter con slot and table wide inexperience with the system. At the end of that first game, I knew I wanted to run it again and apply what I’d learned.
The first big thing was to decide whether I wanted to go with a full collaborative setting build, or use a kingdom seed. Last time we used a great seed, Starfall; it did a great job of providing us with a meaty setting to discuss and customize. We took it in unique and interesting directions, which was great. Unfortunately, the very open scope combined with our inexperience so that we spent a lot of time selecting from the cool options and struggling to integrate them. That was a fun experience—it’s great collaborative world building—but I’d like for us to play through a couple of crossroads this time.
Enter the Stellar Eagle
One of the examples is of a generation ship, which brought to mind a book series that I read a couple of times in my teens and twenties. Once the books came to mind, sparks began to fly as I mentally translated book events into a Kingdom framework.
Merging those together, and writing it down, led to The Stellar Eagle kingdom seed.
June 7, 2032 was the culmination of years of effort; the world’s first manned ship with a Step drive struggled up from the Arizona desert and reached orbit. A crew of fewer than a hundred marines, pilots, and ship’s officers navigates the ship towards the edge of the solar system where the drive can be engaged and instantaneously leap to the target system. Just over a thousand colonists are on board; among them elite figures in many scientific fields, eager to be the first to explore new worlds and grapple with the universe bare handed. The selection process for crew and colonists was intense… it had to be. Everyone will endure twenty months of transit covering 25 AU just to reach the safe Step limit… after which communication becomes impossible and the journey from the edge of the target system begins.
The Stellar Eagle’s holds are filled with every bit of Rhenium that America and its allies could scrape together; no American (or allied) ship will be able to follow for years while more Rhenium is refined. Those stockpiled tons on board are barely enough for [3 | 5 | 8] interstellar Steps.
The Kepler II scope winnowed the possibilities and Step probes confirmed [two | a few | several] worlds that appear suitable for colonization. (At least in terms of possessing an atmosphere and being the proper distance from the local sun.)
As the Stellar Eagle departed Earth orbit, the spider-work frame of a [Malay-Indonesian | Chinese | Russian ] ship was well advanced. Rumor has it that their spies stole the probe data…
- Personality conflict between military crew and civilian colonists
- This is a specifically American project; rival countries may have agents aboard
- Space is filled with small, fast moving objects; one bad hit could rip the hull
- The ship is crowded; space is at a premium, and still there are very few supplies
- Isolation; cut off from the rest of humanity by long delays
- Bridge – Where the ship’s functions are gathered and controlled; access limited to ship’s crew
- The Swimming Pool – A social gathering point to see and be seen; functionally, it’s also a great deal of the ship’s finite water supply
- Hydroponics Garden – The ship’s lungs; photosynthesis provides fresh oxygen, and crops provide some relief from dried rations
- Scouts – The three small ships (2 occupant capacity), intended for scouting out the new worlds. Some scientific sampling equipment and rail cannon in case of trouble.
- Observation Deck – Perfect place to view the stars; big enough to comfortably hold hundreds
- Science Labs – Crowded spaces filled with famous scientists in many fields
- Quarters – Compact apartments; everything folds away or collapses to maximize space.
- The Captain
- Medical Doctor
- First Officer
- Rockstar Scientist
- Scout Pilot
- Less talented Spouse
- Skilled Scientist with a need to prove that she’s here on merit, not gender balance
- Ship Psychologist
- Agent of a foreign power
Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, Mia, Emily, Abigail, Madison, Leona
Noah, Liam, Jacob, Mason, Ethan, William, Michael, Alexander. Jayden, Bryce
Miller, Davis, Garcia, Rodriguez, Wilson, Martinez, Anderson, Taylor, Thomas, Hernandez, Moore
- Someone is found murdered. How did a murderer get through the screening?
- Communication with Earth cut off during a tense conflict
- The planet has the right atmospheric mix, but can humans survive the local ecology?
- We’re down to one Step of fuel; do we return to Earth empty handed, or Step with no return?
- How do we handle adultery and divorce in this closed, isolated community?
- Do we follow the settlement design planned back on Earth, or adjust to local circumstances?
- We’re Americans; when are we going to elect leaders instead of following an unelected captain?
- A ship just arrived in system. How are we going to respond?
Inspired by the America 2040 series of books, but I hope we lead ours in a very different direction and grapple with modern issues.