Author Topic: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch  (Read 791 times)

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Offline 0rph3u5

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Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
This emerged as a sketch for a vision of future events for a campaign on WIP list. I decided to replace the event for that timeline with a randomly chosen glimpses into post-Capella campaigns from across the community – you know, as a tribute to the work put out by the community.

Since I actually have no interest in putting in the work to realize this sketch, I see no harm done in putting it out here. Also, you know, it’s hard to not see the set-up as totally derivative of other projects.



Backstory:
It has been 19 years since the Shivans destroyed the Capella Star(s). With the supernova remnant an effective barrier between the GTVA and the Shivans, the gaze of the Terran and Vasudan species turned inwards.

As a lesson learned from the NTF Rebellion, the GTVA was reformed – allowing individual systems and colonies to form smaller federations under the umbrella of the GTVA.

On the Terran-side this has led to creation of the Polaris Union, which has revived the humanistic spirit of the Terra Nova-movement, which had been decried has a precursor to the NTF. Indeed the Union is struggling mightily to cast off the shadow of the NTF, trying to cultivate an ideal of a Terran civilisation no longer reliant on Earth. As the Union’s most prominent minds would put it: “Without Earth we are free for a new beginning.”

On the Vasudan-side, tensions over the Imperial hegemony have finally come to surface. With the illness and death of Konsu II seven years ago, the central integrating figurehead for the Vasudan people was lost. Now non-Imperial populations across Vasudan colonies are fearing for their cultural identities, that the Imperials in their dominance might complete what the Shivans have started.

Meanwhile, the terran, non-Union worlds have poured their resources into building a jump gate to Sol. However after seventeen years of planning, research and construction, they were most disappointed with the result.
Sol did not welcome its lost children with open arms – the returning exiles found their paradise a well-armed fortress and its guards highly suspicious of the new arrivals. After the portal was opened the Solar Federation lost no time in forcing the GTVA to return to Delta Serpentis and declaring all travel through the jump node an act of war, unless it was sanctioned by the Federation.

In their nearly five decades of isolation, the Federation had become highly suspicious of what might eventually come to them if intersystem travel was restored. And even with all those scenarios to play through, the GTVA was a disappointment to them as well. From the view of the Federation leadership, the terrans from the other side of the node are a horde of paupers – "devoid of their own culture, identity and achievements"; "to sum it up, and unworthy branch in genealogy of human civilisation". In another quote: “Nothing beyond the Heliopause is worth the health and sanity of one Federation sailor.” Meanwhile, if they were not this well-armed, some members of the Federation Admiralty can be heard musing, one might consider a campaign to “educate these savages”.

But where the Federation leadership is arrogant and distant, the civilians on Earth, Venus and the Jovians hardly care for the “Imperial mandate” of Federation propaganda. The possibility of interstellar travel has inflamed the imagination of many. By opening the jump gate, the GTVA has managed to undermine the Federations ideology of “splendid isolation”. The slogan “Even golden cage is a prison” is starting to appear more and more across Sol. And in defiance of the Federation’s foreign policy, a vibrant semi-legal exchange between civilians on both sides of the Node has emerged: through pirate subspace communications and thanks to people smuggling materials on diplomatic vessels, both sides seek to satisfy their longing for which they have been deprived.

Now, Federation and the GTVA have managed to finally agree on terms for regular exchanges between both sides.



Part I – “Idle Hands…”

“I have been in the service for twenty-five years now. I have been in engagements with the NTF and the Shivans. But nothing I ever did was as stressfully as dealing with those damn Federation tourists.”
- CO of the GTCv Monitor

It has been several months since the Federation and GTVA have agreed on conditions under which Federation citizens may visit GTVA worlds. Since then thousands of Federation citizens have taken the opportunity to be tourists “out on the frontier”. Although most of them travel via commercial craft and that way stick to pre-planned, easy to monitor routes, there are also a number of these tourists that prefer to roam freely through allied systems. Most of them are only nuisances to the GTVA and Union forces, as they have to escort them out of restricted space or on occasion rescue ships in distress. But there are also those who fancy themselves modern-day treasure hunters and truth seekers, chasing every tall tale that can be overheard in a pilots’ bar.

One of these groups kicks off a crisis as GTVA task forces arrests them in Union space, with no clear intentions of letting them go. The situation quickly devolves as the Federation dispatches a rapid response force to free their citizens and Union mobilizes its own forces to in order to save face before the Federation.

To diffuse the situation the GTVA is forced to reveal the reasons behind their actions – and as they do they have de-classify a matter which had been a well-kept state-secret for nineteen years: Using the ETAK-technology the GTVA had been able to tap into and monitor the Shivan communications network for the entire Orion-arm. For almost two decades, the GTVI had a live feed on Shivan fleet movements and jump routes – keeping a keen eyed vigil to prevent the any further Shivan invasion before it even could begin.

Part II – “The pull to action”

“You should have seen the looks on the faces of the Federation and Union brass when Richter revealed the scope of Panopticon. If one of them had fainted it would have been perfect.”
- Anonymous, possibly a GTVI analyst

As the GTVI revealed Panopticon, their complete and live surveillance of Shivan forces in the Orion arm, through their own communications network, it send shockwaves through all levels of GTVA and Federation society. Since the Great War, the threat that the Shivans might reappear without warning had been a constant presence. Some might argue that it was the golden thread by which held the GTVA together, and a fig leaf for the hegemony of the military. It certainly had been an iron curtain preventing more hard-line elements of the Federation to push for conquest.

But what was to come next? – The Shivan threat was essentially contained, now that there would always be ample time to warn and prepare. While precise intelligence of the tactical capabilities of the Shivan battlegroups and ships might still be elude the GTVI while observing from a far, it was no an insurmountable obstacle anymore.

Through backchannel communications, the GTVA quickly had to learn that they had made in mistake with revealing Panopticon. While in the short term diffusing the volatile relationship with the Federation, the mere existence of Panopticon was water on the mills of the hardliners in the Federation government. For them Panopticon was too valuable an asset to not be in Federation hands, even more so as the GTVA was very tight-lipped with regards to the technical details and unwilling to share.

On top of that, the Union governments, which had to learn about Panopticon at the same time as the Federation delegates, were outraged. Accusing the GTVA of acting on lingering resent over the NTF Rebellion, the Union raised the spectre of breaking ties with the GTVA.

But the blow that brought the GTVA strategy down came from within: As news of Panopticon hit the public, among the Vasudans a quite unexpected movement gained momentum – one that rallied to a call for vengeance. For fifty years, the inability of mount a counter-offensive against the Shivans had stifled any through of a campaign to retaliate for destruction of Vasuda Prime. But with Panopticon, the GTVA was no longer at the mercy of the Shivans and a strike could be planned and executed.

Part III – “Outbound”

“Command always picks the biggest, meanest horse to ride. All you can hope for is that they know they did.”
- Anonymous, possibly a GTVA officer

While dealing with the crisis of their own making, a report reached GTVA Command: For months the analysts working Panopticon had been monitoring an unusual pattern in Shivan fleet movements – Shivan forces were gradually converging on a system in relative galactic neighbourhood of the GTVA. On top of that the some ships which arrived at said location were disappearing with no indication were they had been going.

A more invasive application of ETAK would provide additional information but also possibly compromise Panopticon’s access.

Risking Panopticon was out of the question, now that knowledge about it was in the public domain. However a different course of action would provide a solution to the crisis with the Federation, the Union and the Vasudan Dissenters at the same time, a GTVI delegate argued: A joint expedition, as both a sign of cooperation and a test to lower the high expectations into Panopticon as an offensive tool.

In the Federation, the Moderates leapt at the chance for a joint mission with the GTVA – under the motto “what belongs together, comes together”. The Hardliners on the other hand, raised no objections, mostly because testing a Federation detachment in combat was considered an assets on its own. The lead ship of their detachment would be the frigate Athens.

The Union was more hesitant. Mostly because as mark differentiation the Union had minimized military spending (also a sign to the Vasudans), their forces were underequipped and facing logistical problems. But the fear of being on the outside during this defining endeavour eventually helped to form a pro-joint operation coalition. The union detachment would be commanded the destroyer Oberon.

The Vasudans would be providing the largest detachment. The crusade for vengeance had become at pet cause for the non-Imperial Vasudans and putting strain on the pan-Vasudan coalition. As a result, both an Imperial, aboard the GVD Ptolemy, and a non-Imperial commander, aboard the GVD Siwa, were selected.

The GTVA provided its own GTD Excalibur as well as an intelligence detachment lead by the GTCv Noir, commanded by Admiral Richter.

Together, the fleet departed through jump nodes revealed through the use of Panopticon.
But their departure did not escape notice. Somewhere far away the Coryphaeus watched their departure on a surveillance feed that would have made creators of the Panopticon green with envy.

Part IV – “No Man’s Space”

“It never rains on Concordia.”
- Solar Federation idiom, used to a express an unexpected problem

The joint expedition was under way for nearly a month until it first saw signs of Shivan forces, thanks to the advance warning provided by Panopticon. But these Shivans were not acting like any other Shivan force encountered: They were making haste towards the same destination as the joint expedition – ignoring the allied ship unless provoked and even then only engaging for as long as required to make the next jump.

As they approached their target the JE began to encounter more signs that something of urgency was going on – Shivan ships that had been abandoned “by the wayside” if they could not keep pace with the rest of the fleet as well as massive convoys loaded with arms and supplies. All evidence pointed towards a war effort.

At their destination the picture suddenly turned as JE forces lost contact with one the Shivan battle groups they had been tracking through Panopticon. As scouts investigated the scene, they encountered what they didn’t expect: Towering over the wreckage of a Ravana class-destroyer was that of an unknown alien battleship. One that easily outclassed every ship in the JE.
The Shivan ships had not been disappearing to parts unknown, the Shivans were fighting a war – and apparently the tide of battle swung both ways.

Until Command back home could be consulted on the news, the JE limited its operations to reconnaissance and tried to stay out of sight.

Part V – “The Anchor” (possible SOC loop)

“When they told us which system was heart of Shivan operations, we should have run right in opposite direction.”
- Anonymous, possibly a Solar Federation Pilot

While waiting for confirmation from Command, the GTVI made an excursion deep into Shivan controlled space. Evaluation of the data from Panopticon suggested that Shivan were defending something near system’s star. And that is where Admiral Richter ordered a selected cadre of pilots to go.

The mission would turn into a disaster: Of twelve scouts send to find whatever the Shivans were guarding, none returned. The last scout was able to transmit an image of a massive space station, orbiting the star and apparently draining plasma directly from the star.

A second scouting party fared no better, but this time the final pilot was spared by the Shivans. Instead the pilot was contacted by someone speaking in a human voice: “Tell your commanders, that the Anchor must not concern them. But if they want to step into a hell of their own design, they are welcome to try.”

Part VI – “Intervention”

“The GTVA and the Solar Federation recognize the Voc’quir Dominion as an ally in our defence against the Shivan Threat.”
- Communique by GTVA Command

After salvaging debris from those alien ships that were engaged with Shivans, begins to learn about the enemies of the Shivans – they are a species called the Voc’quir. And their core worlds occupy a nearby segment of Orion arm. While their motivations remain unclear, the JE assumes the Shivans to be the aggressors in this conflict. In a second communique to Command they relay their findings and subsequent conclusions.
As a response, Command authorizes the JE to make contact with the Voc’quir and to intervene in the conflict on their side.

Following up on the reconnaissance the JE transitions into a nearby system where the Voc’quir are fighting a losing battle against the Shivans. Attacking the Shivan fleet from behind, the JE is able to disrupt their supply line and eliminate the Shivans reserves.

However the final engagement over the Voc’quir positions takes an expected turn:
As the Shivans are defeated and the JE extends diplomatic overtures, the Voc’quir launch an attack of their own – cornering the Excalibur and Ptolemy in orbit of planet, while the Oberon and Siwa both are attacked and boarded.

As it turns out the Voc’quir are indiscriminate xenophobes – and were the aggressors against the Shivans in this conflict. Fuelled by religious fervour that their gods reside in the stars of nearby systems, Voc’quir have been trying to “purge” what they consider holy sites. And JE is equally trespassing.

The Athens is able to launch a daring rescue op for the Ptolemy and the Excalibur, but even with the help of these ships they cannot prevent the crews of the Oberon and Siwa being abducted.

Part VII – “No man left behind”

“You want to know what a Voc’quir solider looks like? – Like a giant cyborg shrimp. And they are a hundred times meaner than the image is funny.”
- Anonymous JE marine

Following the tragic misjudgement with regards to the Voc’quir, the JE puts its depleted resources to the task of rescuing the crews abducted from the Oberon and Siwa. A task which made considerably more difficult by having to operate all ships without a full compliment.
Because the Oberon and Siwa, being a Hecate and Hatshepsut respectively, are less advanced than the Excalibur and the Ptolemy it decided to use these ships as fall-back positions, and ready them for the immediate retreat to allied space.

With the more mobile Athens and Noir scouting ahead, the Excalibur and the Ptolemy begin tracking the Voc’quir ships that are carrying the prisoners from Siwa and the Oberon. The first Voc’quir capital ship they manage to intercept already poses a considerable challenge due to the restraint the JE have to exercise in order to not jeopardize the lives of the prisoners.

In the end, the enemy capital ship is disabled and boarded but the Voc’quir put a considerable fight, delaying the Excalibur and Ptolemy long enough for Voc’quir reinforcements to arrive. With abandoning the prisoners to their fate a non-option, the two JE destroyers are once again cornered and trading blows. However this time the exhaustion of ship and crew shows clearly and Voc’quir manage to close in aggressively.
Just in-time however the Oberon appears at the back of the Voc’quir attack. The distraction is enough to cause disarray in the Voc’quir ranks for just enough time so the Excalibur and the Ptolemy can jump to safety without exposing themselves to the Voc’quir.

Upon their return to normal space, the second Voc’quir capital ship that has taken on prisoners jumps into nearby space. In an expression of utter contempt for the JE, that ship jettisons all prisoners into space and warps out.

Part VIII – “Censure” (possible SOC loop)

“Saving you from yourself is turning into a distraction.”
- The Coryphaeus, true identity unknown

While the rest of JE consolidates for the long trip home, aboard the GTCv Noir options are being considered in order to at least strike the “complete” out of “complete failure”. Quickly the idea is hatched to acquire Voc’quir technology from one of the more intact derelicts, in the hope that Voc’quir technology could improve the fortunes of the GTVA in any future confrontation.

The salvage operation hits an obstacle – upon arriving at the designated derelict, they find the Athens trying the same thing. As the Federation and Alliance warships face-off, they become targets of roaming Shivan fighters and bombers.

Just as it seem that the Shivan would overwhelm both ships, the attack stops and Shivans freeze in place. A familiar voice makes herself known: “I wonder if you are deliberately testing my patience with you. Saving you from yourself is turning into a distraction.”
After that as one, the remaining Shivans depart.

Part IX – “The Long Road Home”

With the half of the abducted crews rescued, the JE set out to return home – beaten and bruised as they are.

During the return trip they are however “swimming against the stream” of Shivans making for the Anchor, and the both ships and crews are seriously exhausted, making the trip home much more difficult.

As they arrive back in Allied Space, they are greeted by an honour guard of Allied Ships. But the celebration feels terribly hollow considering the lives lost and the JE basically ammounting to nothing other than all participants having failed together.



I guess you can all see the biggest issues with this:

- A lot of the background story points go nowhere in particular.

- The Voc'quir are one-dimensional.

- And there is no real reason for them to be something new. They could easily be replaced with some kind of estanged Terran or Vasudan colony if the timeline allowed for something like that; or Ancients survivors if you rearrange the motivation.

- The story actually starts way more interestingly than it ends.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2019, 02:29:18 pm by 0rph3u5 »
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

"For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The Lantern King, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline Iain Baker

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Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Thanks for posting. An interesting read. I concur with your thoughts for the most part. The new alien race is a bit 'meh'.

I guess we have all been spoilt a bit with BP's take on the Shivans, the introduction of the Vishnans and the whole Great Darkness thing. It's a different continuity I know, but after encountering races /entities like those, standard coperal space-racists are a bit of an anti climax.

Its the same problem that Mass Effect Andromeda had (from what I have seen, I haven't played it yet) in that after facing off against the Reapers -  ancient eldritch horrors that have wiped the galaxy clean of sentient life thousands of times already in the first three games, going up against extra-galactic humanoid space bastards with bumpy heads didn't have the same gravitas.

Babylon 5 had a similar problem in the series after the shadow war. After going up against billion year old races with technology so advanced it might as well be magic, going up against lesser enemies - such as Psi-core or the Drakh just didn't have the same impact.

I went a bit of a tangent there didn't I? Sorry about that ;-) This "How to continue a conflict focused franchise when 'the big bad' is defeated' problem has been bothering me for a while now, and I guess this seamed a good place to get it off my chest and see what other people think.

Considering your background, whats your thoughts on scenarios like these? Should a franchise end on a high or keep on going, even if this means going down hill? Would there be a way of making subsequent series, episodes, games etc. not feel trivial in comparison? I'm thinking that the franchise would have to pivot and become something quite different - something not focused on combating 'a big bad' and instead focusing perhaps on exploration, or building colonies or something.

Right, its almost midnight here* so I'm heading to bed.

* Which might explain the random tangents - note to self - no more typing when this tiered  :lol:
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Offline Luis Dias

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Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Well, I like the overall idea of a small campaign based on a scouting mission where you basically are threading lightly on a completely different war, trying to observe, learn, possibly getting new allies, and new technology, and at the end, come back.

I disagree with the fact that you could "exchange" this species with any other, the problem is that it's a completely undeveloped species. While all terran and vasudan factions seemingly have their own stories and interest vectors, which keeps the plot being interesting, the aliens are zero dimensional fodder, but they don't have to be like that. If I were to change anything about the plot, that would be it. I like the idea of them not really being peaceful and friendly, but give them a reason for this, other than basic speciesm "they're just like that". I don't think it could work like that, a completely absurdly violent species would never reach the stars to begin with. However, history is filled with contingencies, and this species could have a good reason for their extreme behavior. Make it a mystery, make it interesting. Heck, if you can't find a good reason, just imply that there could be one, we are just not allowed to learn it.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
The idea of getting into a situation where you say 'hey thank god the universe has shivans in it' is kind of an interesting one.

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Its the same problem that Mass Effect Andromeda had (from what I have seen, I haven't played it yet) in that after facing off against the Reapers -  ancient eldritch horrors that have wiped the galaxy clean of sentient life thousands of times already in the first three games, going up against extra-galactic humanoid space bastards with bumpy heads didn't have the same gravitas.

Babylon 5 had a similar problem in the series after the shadow war. After going up against billion year old races with technology so advanced it might as well be magic, going up against lesser enemies - such as Psi-core or the Drakh just didn't have the same impact.

I went a bit of a tangent there didn't I? Sorry about that ;-) This "How to continue a conflict focused franchise when 'the big bad' is defeated' problem has been bothering me for a while now, and I guess this seamed a good place to get it off my chest and see what other people think.

Considering your background, whats your thoughts on scenarios like these? Should a franchise end on a high or keep on going, even if this means going down hill? Would there be a way of making subsequent series, episodes, games etc. not feel trivial in comparison? I'm thinking that the franchise would have to pivot and become something quite different - something not focused on combating 'a big bad' and instead focusing perhaps on exploration, or building colonies or something.

Okay, let's unpack that.

Mass Effect: Andromeda's problem is not that lacks the same kind of antagonist as the original ME-line - it actually better for the absence of "THE DOOM ROBOTS ARE COMING!" as well as the reverse "Boy who cired wolf". But then it falls trap to (shamelessly quoting myself) "[they spend] so much time trying to say something that [they end] up saying nothing at all". The game cramed full of conflict in a dramatic sense that none of it has the chance to develop or resolve properly (and considering Bioware's history I am fairly sure that they are not deliberately witholding for effect).

I would have to wiki most of it (I forgot most of the terminology), and that would be some serious spoilers - so I won't elaborate here and now, but if you really want I can.


When it comes to Babylon 5, the problem is a little different; the original show's dramatic arc actually completes with Season 4 - the Earth Alliance Civil War serving as an epilogue to the Shadow War, as it sees the new Young Races dominated order of the galaxy take shape, paying off on the promise that the guidance of the First Ones is no longer necessary. The Deconstruction of Falling Stars is perfect closing chapter for the series.

The original series 5th Season falls into the trap of overexplaining the dangling plot threads. Dangling plot threads may set the OCD of some strat of nerd culture on fire, and fire up the imagination of people like me, but it is always a question if you actually need to say these things - esspecially if they resolve along the pervious established logic.

- The mechanics of how the ISA was formed were resolved. All that happened was formalizing it.

- That the Psi-Crops in "all its dystopian glory" would be opposed was a given, considering how the show handled the Earth Alliance's descent into to tyranny and rise back out of it. The answer to the question of how that would work, didn't sustain it because conflict at heart of it was resolved in the previous seasons already, esspecially season 3.

- Answering the question if the "dark future", which Sheridan experienced while untethered during War without End's timetravel, had been avoided was also unnecessary. For one Londo's entire character arc is that of a tragic "hero", nothing in series ever changed that. Secondly, Londo's story was one of a Faustian bargain, and as a matter of course "the devil always collects his dues" no matter how much the subject of the bargain tries to free themselves (which is mirrored in Vir's character arc quite openly*, as Vir always is the foil for Londo). Thirdly, G'Kar's arc kept dropping hints that the future was still on track (e.g. losing his eye). And finally, as sympathetic as Londo is, the fact that he was destined to die at G'Kar's hands made it easier to swallow that he seemingly got away with murder.

*Giving you one of my favorite quotes from the show:  [Vir to Mr Morden] "I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike, as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I want to look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this."


When it comes to Crusade, I would argue that if the show hadn't turned into the production nightmare that it did, it would have been on track to find new ground - although it would have been on a more contained scope than the galaxy-spanning epic of the original (which BTW by all accounts was precisely the problem the network had).
The most compelling evidence for that is the dialogue in the opening:
Quote
[Galen] What do you want?
[Gideon] To find a cure to the Drakh plague before it wipes out all life on Earth.
[...]
[Galen] Who do you serve and who do you trust? Who do you serve and who do you trust?

Note for one, that the answer to "What do you want?" is of the same kind that made Mr Morden refuse to work with G'Kar - unlike the open ended objective for which Londo "signed away his soul": It's an achievable objective with defined scope, meaning that it might have very well changed during the run of the show (and considering what JMS published after the show cancelation actually would have).

Note for two, that final questions are both joined and repeated. Now that's also where the headshots of the cast would be shown. Considering on top of that how much the show is actually dedicated to building clear relationships between a core of characters (most notable Gideon and Galen & Galen and Dureena), the change in objective might have complicated or even severed those connections. Evidence is already there, when e.g. renegade Technomage-plots brewing in several episodes, Dureena's people being discovered to have survived, and whole buisness with the Shadow Hybrid and the Apocalypse Box.


As for how to continue a story once the core conflict resolves, that actually both easy and difficult problem - one that makes anticipate a game like Trails of Cold Steel 3 immensely.

Let me gather a few examples and get back to you on that.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 02:06:29 pm by 0rph3u5 »
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

"For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The Lantern King, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
The idea of getting into a situation where you say 'hey thank god the universe has shivans in it' is kind of an interesting one.

That's actually not where I wanted to end up - I was more going for "Humans are not a necessary part of the universe"/"It's their galaxy, we are only living in it".

Sometime ago, I got fed up with the presumtiveness of "human characters = most relatable to audience = good guys".



Anyway, continuing for previous:

This "How to continue a conflict focused franchise when 'the big bad' is defeated' problem has been bothering me for a while now, and I guess this seamed a good place to get it off my chest and see what other people think.

Considering your background, whats your thoughts on scenarios like these? Should a franchise end on a high or keep on going, even if this means going down hill? Would there be a way of making subsequent series, episodes, games etc. not feel trivial in comparison? I'm thinking that the franchise would have to pivot and become something quite different - something not focused on combating 'a big bad' and instead focusing perhaps on exploration, or building colonies or something.


First of all, to clear up some terminology:
Conflict in a dramatic sense is basically the substance of your story's plot. A central conflict is basicially the why at the heart of it everything that happens. Side conflicts usually act as accelerants and complications to ramp up or down the tension before the central conflict is resolved. During the resolution of a conflict the characters are supposed "to learn" something/"grow". A conflict doesn't require an anatagonist.

When you bring an antagonist into a conflict you can make it confrontational through their presence but you don't have to. My making it confrontational you basically position the anatagonist as measure to the protagonist's "growth". (Antagonist have other uses as well, but that a tangent for another time...)


So technically you can take away the antagonist without resolving the core conflict of franchise easily; esspecially when resolving the side conflicts are meant to shift the priorties of the protagonists.

Problem is to keep fostering the audience's engagement with the still ongoing central conflict once you transition it from confrontational to being non-confrontational. The problem is of course that antagonists are flashy and add a degree of dynamism to proceedings - so if you remove it you have to have something that can carry the attention of the audience otherwise.


If you resolve a core conflict and continue using the same characters that's a whole new ball park - as you push the post-climax and exposition of two stories against each other, turning the hard won growth in the first story in the baseline of next one. Again all you need to do is hold the audience's attention and transition it from A to B.


The big issue with that is that when it comes to audience engagement "nobody knows anything" applies. You cannot pre-plan that on the drawing board - esspecially since being involved in the writing process tends to prejudice you.


ps. I know I talked about examples before ... but turns out, even the things I though were sure candidates don't actually lend themselves to this argument - mostly because in a complete consideration there is actually more consistency between titles that paves over a few points of difference.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 03:47:57 pm by 0rph3u5 »
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

"For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The Lantern King, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 
Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Almost forgot to reply :nervous:

The "Shivans travel to a certain location, than contact is lost - they got murdered by psycopathic aliens" kinda reminds me of the beginning of ST Voyagers "Scorpion" and Species 8472.

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Almost forgot to reply :nervous:

The "Shivans travel to a certain location, than contact is lost - they got murdered by psycopathic aliens" kinda reminds me of the beginning of ST Voyagers "Scorpion" and Species 8472.

I won't deny the connection but it is not a conscious one. That situation actually is a consequence of anti-surveilance theme in the story.
"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

"For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The Lantern King, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 
Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Forgot to say(again)- it's a nice read! :)

 
Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Yes, it definitely was a very interesting read. IMO the whole situation gives off a bit of Age of Aquarius vibe, at least the theme of an exploratory fleet trapped in enemy space where they're quite literally ants underfoot.

The most pressing issue of this concept is definitely the appearance of a new evil race, namely them being just the unreasonable space exterminators, but without the layer of true alienness and mystery the Shivans had. To be fair, I think that some of that mystery that should belong to the new alien race was shifted onto Shivans.

The way I see it, this story is a nice place to introduce some modern concepts of far-fetched future of the Universe to deepen the motives of the Bad Guys (I think Batutta would like this).
Why would a species engage in a large scale campaign to gather all the resources they can and eliminate all other beings that might attempt the same?

There are at least two prerequisites to this: firstly, you need to be at least fairly certain that technology allows you to move your mind onto a machine substrate, i.e. into a computer or an android. Secondly, you need to be at least pretty sure that you can advance your computer tech to the point where your energy efficiency is mostly limited by the backround temperature of the Universe (about 2,72 Kelvin right now). The point is, the minimal energy required to run a single computation is directly related to the background temperature of the universe, scaling down to zero when the temperature is a perfect absolute zero (of course that never happens, but you'd want to get as close as possible).

A very logical approach for such a civilisation would be to gather any resource that is in their reach and then put their, supposedly computerised, people into a long sleep or slow down state in order to preserve as much of these resources as possible until they can be utilised with the most efficiency (so near the heat death of the Universe), only then waking up and running their minds at incredible speed and efficiency - either to make their civilisation survive subjective eons of time, or to be able to find a way to reverse the proccess of the heat death or the Big Rip.
Of course, all this is not taking into consideration subspace, FTL travel and other sci-fi magic that can occur in Freespace universe. It's just more of a general direction.

Now, the major question is: is the civilisation planning something like that willing to cooperate with other races and integrate them into their plans? Let's assume the Voc’quir aren't. For them, it's plain simple - if other races were to take the resources that are in Voc'quir reach, they should be eliminated before they can become a major threat. Not only because this race is plain evil, but mostly because the sole existence of organic life forms is incredibly inefficient and wasteful, and them moving into a post-organic state basically makes them a large threat on its own, and even if they didn't want to defeat the Voc'quir, they'd still be sitting on a possibly big chunk of resources and that would be in the way of the goal to achieve a state of near immortality in the face of the end of the Universe and a possible "rescue" of it.

There's also the matter of Voc'quir view on other organic races or organic life at all. I can imagine that after meeting Shivans (that seem to be at least semi-organic together with their ships) and having a lengthy conflict with them, a cybernetic/cybernetically augmented race after that might view other organics as at least similar to Shivans and therefore, creating the same problem once again.

If in such case we'd go as far as considering the above as true to this alien race, I guess the Shivans could be the opposite to them. Attempting to hoard as much resources as fast as possible in order to stop the degradation of the Universe right away, not wait until the end of time. And since Shivans would probably need all of the stuff available, they rather wouldn't want to have to deal with another space hegemony wanting to grab all the possible resources. Be it the Voc'quir or how Terrans/Vasudans were before the Great War.

Why would the Shivans try to destroy Terrans and Vasudans in FS1? To get rid of another aggresively expanding race, or two. Why blow up Capella? Either because Shivans would want to block GTVA from interfering with the conflict against Voc'quir that could have arisen some tim earlier and/or because GTVA no longer meets conditions required for Shivans to go on an extermination rampage against Terrans and Vasudans, especially with the post-Capella GTVA "turning inwards".

Woah, I've let myself loose here. Maybe this can somehow fill up the hole, I guess?
Mito [PL] - Today at 8:52 PM
I was supposed to make a short presentation about basics of optical fibers and here I am, listening to Eurobeat while reading about quantum cryptography.

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
The most pressing issue of this concept is definitely the appearance of a new evil race, namely them being just the unreasonable space exterminators, but without the layer of true alienness and mystery the Shivans had.

While I agree on the problem, the solution brushes away the few details that are there to begin with.

Let me just deconstruct what is there:
1) The Voc'quir are able to pose a the threat to the Anchor (not the Shivans as a whole) that is severe enought to prompt an escalation of hostilites from the Shivans which results in them assembling more ships.

2) The Voc'quir biologically have anthropod-physiology, which they augment with technology. (Anthropods make good references for alien phenotypes because most people never see them up close and once you blow up what is originally on a milimeter scale it looks quite terrifying. However in reality anthropod-physiology is very limited on far it can be scalled upwards, which why most larger anthropods are sea-dwellers as the conditions under water mitigate some of the problems.)

3) Their claim to the territory around the Anchor is based on a "divine right"/"holy land"-conception of that area of space.


2 and 3 are actually to put the Voc'quir's motives into questions: Are they possibly an uplifted species? Do their motives originate with them?

3 also as another implication: That the Voc'quir's attack on the Shivans was carried out with no regards to self-interest. That the Voc'quir might as well burn out thier own civlisation chasing an objective they cannot accomplish. Which then circles back to the question to the origin of their motives.



Why would the Shivans try to destroy Terrans and Vasudans in FS1? To get rid of another aggresively expanding race, or two. Why blow up Capella? Either because Shivans would want to block GTVA from interfering with the conflict against Voc'quir that could have arisen some tim earlier and/or because GTVA no longer meets conditions required for Shivans to go on an extermination rampage against Terrans and Vasudans, especially with the post-Capella GTVA "turning inwards".

That's antithetical to the non-anthropocentric conception of the Shivans, and kinda throws the scenes with the Coryptheaus out of the window. Putting them(gender neutral, not plural) there was to make quite clear that everything Joint Expedition does is not worth any concious effort by the Shivans - maybe even escaping notice. Therefor: "Saving you from yourself is turning into a distraction."

While I was fond of the idea of the Shivan actually posing tests to the GTVA in FS1 and FS2 for a good while, I have found a more fuitful idea to consider that both times no concious effort was involved. That all previous encounters with the Shivans were rather autonomous motions of a gestalt-entity operating on a non-human scale than directed, concious actions.
Humanity passing below the lower perception limit of the Shivans, and having to work its way up there under its own power, is way more fertile ground.

"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

"For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The Lantern King, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

"...because they are not Dragons."

 
Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
While I was fond of the idea of the Shivan actually posing tests to the GTVA in FS1 and FS2 for a good while, I have found a more fuitful idea to consider that both times no concious effort was involved. That all previous encounters with the Shivans were rather autonomous motions of a gestalt-entity operating on a non-human scale than directed, concious actions.
Humanity passing below the lower perception limit of the Shivans, and having to work its way up there under its own power, is way more fertile ground.

It kinda reminds me how :v-old: hinted that the Shivans were of an entirely different scale and that they might have vessels the size of celestial bodies.

 
Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
While I was fond of the idea of the Shivan actually posing tests to the GTVA in FS1 and FS2 for a good while, I have found a more fuitful idea to consider that both times no concious effort was involved. That all previous encounters with the Shivans were rather autonomous motions of a gestalt-entity operating on a non-human scale than directed, concious actions.
Humanity passing below the lower perception limit of the Shivans, and having to work its way up there under its own power, is way more fertile ground.

It kinda reminds me how :v-old: hinted that the Shivans were of an entirely different scale and that they might have vessels the size of celestial bodies.

I have lots of things like that planned in my forum game but no one has posted in it for months  :(

Shivans view most other species the way we view infectious diseases. They think they are doing good by curing the universe of them. After all, no one mourns the fate of smallpox.

The Final War For The Multiverse

 
Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Wasn't that just paused as many had little time?

  
Re: Yet another Post-Capella campaign sketch
Wasn't that just paused as many had little time?

Seemingly, I just hope they come back.
Shivans view most other species the way we view infectious diseases. They think they are doing good by curing the universe of them. After all, no one mourns the fate of smallpox.

The Final War For The Multiverse