Designer’s Notes: Aethyric Space

Aethyric Space was the second article I co-wrote with J. Edward Tremlett. We decided early on the best thing to do was to partition the work according to our strengths. J. knows how to write a compelling bit of fluff and I’m a fair hand with the crunch. Together we hopped to create an interesting – I think we succeeded there, but then I would. The idea of magic in sci-fi is neither unique to RPGS nor popular fiction. (At its heart, Star Wars is basically swords and sorcery in space. Fight me, bro.)

There was very little friction when we worked together and the result was pretty awesome – something I’d consider runnin myself if I were in the mood to do so.

All in all it took me about 30 hours to write, 50 hours to edit, 10 hours worth of research (checking other ), and 35 hours of revision. I spent a further 10 hours looking over the preliminary PDF for any issues and revising. (Note: This doesn’t include J’s efforts – I’m not sure he keeps track of them like I do.)

From My Co-Author

So this one goes back a long while, and has a weird trajectory.

At some point I had an idea: why not make a space-opera RPG that was based on pan-romantic comedy? Wouldn’t it be great if, in addition to keeping your ship flying, doing your job, and having some blaster battles, you also had to contend with the interpersonal complications that having multiple romantic partners would create?

Everyone loves it when Kirk gets the girl, but what if the girls could also be guys, hermaphrodites, robots, clouds of gas, rocks, or even ships… even a whole world that happens to be sentient? And what if at least half the game was trying to keep all your relationships at least stable, if not improving, while outside forces (rivals, arranged marriages, war, enemy empires, space madness) threatened to break it all down?

For a polyamorous sci-fi geek like me, that sounded like heaven. So I started to create the framework for what was going to be called Godspace. In it, Earth was conquered by the Regency some time ago, and had recently earned the right to be a free planet within their pan-romantic society, where enslaving entire worlds to “civilize” them was common practice. Now sufficiently “civilized,” humans were free to roam the universe as part of a technologically-advanced society… that just happened to be at war with its far-flung neighbors Thus guaranteeing action and adventure aplenty, along with a ton of interpersonal problems and opportunities.

Drunk on my own questionable genius, I threw a teaser up on my (now defunct — damn Russians) Livejournal page. Go figure, it was too weird, even for MY friends. That’s saying something, right there.

But, barring a hard drive meltdown, nothing is ever wasted — merely shelved for a time…

Years later, enter Christopher, who wanted to work on a joint effort for Deep Space. He had this interesting idea about magic in space, and just needed some kind of framework to pin it on. And here I was with all these empires, relationships, and background data for a game that never happened.

The romantic aspects were excised, as was Humanity’s enslavement. Godspace became Aethyric Space. And away we went, shaving words as we traveled towards a printable article.

Small notations: I originally wanted to have the Drac’s devouring fleet be called the Crush Wave. Christopher argued for The Maw. I think that worked better. I also wanted to have a friendly nearby civilization be humanity’s first contact, and act as mentors. That had to go on the cutting room floor, but I can’t find them anywhere, or I’d post them here.

One massive in-joke remains: I decided to put some opera into my space opera. If you squint your eyes at the names of the empires, their home worlds, their languages, and other matters, you’ll soon start realizing why they sound a little familiar.

Outtake: The Fate of the Rigol

The few verifiable facts we have about the Zauber are based on the punitive expedition they sent against the Rigol Empire, some 100,000 years ago. The haughty overlords saw no danger in colonizing too close to the central hub, and placing ships between their new acquisitions and Zauber space – gunports open. Three days later the Zauber responded, sending ships like large, metal moons hurtling through space, and the Rigol sued for peace after losing 75% of their remaining fleet within an hour.

During the negotiations, the Rigol ambassadors were mentally contacted by someone calling herself the Stri Fa Men, which could mean “Queen of Stars” or “Queen of Night,” depending on the declension. She claimed to be speaking from the planet of Pa Da Gen (“birdcage”), and demanded ten of their best planets, including their homeworld, Irdev, in return for sparing the rest of their empire.

They agreed, thinking the Zauber might merely enslave or colonize them. They were taken aback when the planets were literally ABSORBED by the Capitol ships that surrounded them. And with that, almost all of the ambassadors were driven insane by the laughter of the Stri Fa Men, the moon-ships sped back to the Central Hub as fast as they’d arrived, and no one ever dared colonize too close to the Zauber ever again.

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