Terracide - (Savage Worlds)
Terracide: Space Opera Noir for Savage Worlds
In ancient times, cartographers had no idea what lay beyond the edges of their quaint 2-d maps, so they simply wrote "Here be monsters." In time, however, all the seas were charted, the maps lost that mysterious edge, and the monsters faded into legend.
Today, humanity travels the deeper, darker ocean of space, infinite in all directions. But like the travelers of old, men still answer the call to brave those endless depths. They go forth seeking alien treasures, ancient secrets of the Universe, or simply to answer the timeless question:
What's Out There?
Having entered that eternal abyss, mankind has once again seen monsters. And looking back from the farthest reaches of the cosmos, they have seen us as well.
Professor Karel Serafin - The Rasalhague Memoirs
2311 A.D.: Earth is a charred husk, rendered lifeless by the Terracide, a relativistic bombardment of unknown origin which sterilized its surface. Elsewhere in the Home System, every inhabited world, moon, comet or artificial habitat is shattered in the same attack. Those who try to return and look for survivors are never heard from again.
In the aftermath, panicked survivors from the Core Loop Colonies near Terra flee to the Frontier, causing a refugee crisis across Terran Space. A military junta takes control of the Core, and begins consolidating its rule over all of Terran Space, while a few stubborn hold-outs prepare to fight for their independence. The Colonial Reserve Fleet suffers from mass desertions, as its space crews turn 'private', becoming mercenaries or resorting to outright piracy. And agitators looking for someone to blame for the Terracide threaten to wage wars against various powerful alien species – wars humanity cannot win.
Humanity's home is now off-limits. Welcome to the rest of the Galaxy. It's dark out there.
Not the same old Space Opera
Terracide is a science fiction setting based on the new space opera sub-genre. Terracide features the grand adventure, larger-than-life characters, and exotic outer-space settings common to traditional space operas, but its outlook is more serious, its morality not so black-and-white, its characters more complex, and its science considerably “harder.”
This darker, edgier space opera is sometimes referred to as space opera noir. The characters tend to be gritty, hard-boiled types, their struggles aren't glamorous, and they'll sacrifice everything for a pyhrric victory, but nobody said being a hero is easy. When it’s too late to save the world, what will you do?
What's different about Terracide
There are a few things that make Terracide different from most other science fiction RPGs.
Earth-like worlds are extremely rare. There used to be exaclty one – Earth. Now it's gone. There are several terraforming projects under way, but they are centuries from completion. Someday, if and when the work is done, humanity will have new worlds to settle.
Humanity has many other types of settlements, however. Most of these are large artificial space habitats which rotate for artificial gravity. Asteroid habitats are also common; some rotate for gravity while others are entirely zero-g. Finally, work has begun on a few experimental habitats such as Dyson trees and other exotica.
Aliens are not remotely like us. They don't have humanoid bodies, don't breathe oxygen, and don't come from earth-like worlds. Most of them don't even use spoken languages. Dealing with them successfully requires specialized knowledge.
Rubber science is not acceptable. All of the technology in Terracide (except the FTL drive) has at least some basis in real-world scientific theory. There are no psionics, nor any artificial gravity, reactionless drives, “cloaking devices” or other physical impossibilities.
Terran Space in the 24th Century
Humanity has taken control of its own evolution, creating new genotypes to meet the challenges of colonizing space. In the off-world settlements, baseline humans often find themselves in the minority, as their bioengineered partners thrive in places homo sapiens was never meant to go.
The FTL Drive acquired from the alien Keepers has taken humanity to the stars, but not too far, too fast. Journeys between star systems take several weeks, and exploration beyond Terran Space can take years.
QEDs (quantum entangled devices) link the major settlements together in real-time, but only at great cost and with limited bandwidth. Priority government, military and research data travels quickly; everything else goes by courier vessel.
The Core Loop Colonies are old and established, the result of humanity's first steps into interstellar space. Terra's Global Assembly organized its first alien embassies and terraforming projects here.
The Old Frontier extends beyond the Core Loop, from Delta Pavonis to Zeta Reticuli. These systems were settled by various independent groups, each looking to strike out on their own for different reasons.
The Kruger 60 Cluster is the largest group of independent settlements in Terran Space. The entire cluster was colonized during the last century by Terran Galactic Operations, an employee-owned terraforming cooperative. TGO has now become a full-fledged interstellar corporate state.
The Lunatic Fringe is a wild and dangerous frontier which lies beyond the Kruger 60 Cluster, extending from Mu Cassiopaeia all the way to Upsilon Andromedae. The Fringe borders on space inhabited by hostile aliens, making it a hazardous place to settle.
The Far Between comprises everything else; humanity has explored other volumes of space, but their settlements elsewhere are “few and far between, hence the name for those poorly-charted spaces. Some who settle in the Far Between desire to be left alone; those who stumble across them should not expect a warm welcome to mark the occasion.
Aliens are more common in the galaxy than humanity expected, but they are not remotely like us. The human race has had dealings, both friendly and hostile, with half a dozen different species, and none of them were what we expected to find.
The Terracide changed everything, when Terra and every other settlement in the Sol System were struck by relativistic weapons of unknown origin. In less than 24 hours, 99% of the human race ceased to exist. When news of the disaster reached the Core Colonies, panicked residents began fleeing for the Frontiers, touching off a refugee crisis across Terran Space.
The Junta took control within weeks afterwards, as a coalition of military and intelligence officials declared martial law throughout the Core Colonies to restore order. What began as an emergency measure in the Core, however, soon turned into a campaign to take control of every settlement in Terran Space.
Civil War and Piracy are now rampant across Terran Space, as the Junta offers its protection to Colonists who don’t want it, while deserters from the Junta’s fleets go into business for themselves as raiders, prompting many outlying settlements to change their minds.
Independents such as Marathon Free Station and Omicron Colony are caught in the middle, facing floods of refugees, military invasions, pirate attacks, and all the other social, political and economic upheavals following the Terracide.
Opportunists are everywhere, taking advantage of the chaos to settle old scores or make a fast buck. Refugees and dispossessed Terran survivors are among the most vulnerable to human predators in the aftermath of the Terracide.
Revenge for the Terracide drives some survivors to strike back against their alien enemies, with no proof they were responsible. If these fanatics succeed, they will start another war with powerful aliens which humanity cannot win.
All-Out War looms on the horizon in the Kruger 60 Cluser, as Terran Galactic’s Celestial Guard appears to be the only fleet left in Terran Space capable of standing against the Junta’s “Consolidated Terran Armada.”
GM: Grady Elliott