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Author Topic: The Universe of ORBIT  (Read 82877 times)
JohnK
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« on: February 06, 2004, 12:07:40 PM »

Hullo, Jeff,

Quote from: JSDiamond

The setting is a *not* bleak space opera, sci-fi western, future where everything went dazzlingly well. In
fact, so well, that core space is over crowded and becoming the grand central station of the universe (yes, even with the hobos and smell of pee).


   I rather like the idea of a positive or somewhat optimistic view of the universe, although I think the original STAR TREK's attitude was a bit too positive.  What this raises is the question of exactly how do the various inhabitants of the ORBIT universe and the League Worlds view the universe and their place in it.  I don't mean necessarily from a philosophical view, but from the pov of everyday life and the things one has to do to live in the LoAW.

Quote

So, instead of there NEEDING to be a reason to adventure, it's a law according to the League of Allied Worlds that all young adults depart League Space and 'sow their oats' or whatever you want to call it, for four Earth-standard years elsewhere, before returning to claim full League
citizenship. The only exceptions are those who go into law enforcement or the military. And even they can expect some cruddy posts out on some frontier world.


   I rather like this approach, and think that it certainly is a good way of motivating player characters to get their butts out into the universe and *do* something, especially within the context of the rpg.  Does this mean that there are no careers or occupations that do not require going walkabout?
 

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[...]Their settings are already much like our own modern world and so inventing a reason to 'adventure' always feels a bit artificial. Unless it's a 'grim, gritty, dark future with dudes in long leather coats' and so on. That's fine, everyone role-plays according to their own priorities, but I wanted to avoid that as an Orbit player's
*starting* point.


    Which raises an interesting question or two...  Does the universe of ORBIT have an overall story arc of some sort, or is this left very much up to the players and the GM?  Furthermore, is there a "dark side" to the universe of the game, or is that something that doesn't fit well with the somewhat positive nature and approach to the game?

     JohnK
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JSDiamond
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2004, 07:15:08 PM »

Quote
I rather like the idea of a positive or somewhat optimistic view of the universe, although I think the original STAR TREK's attitude was a bit too positive. What this raises is the question of exactly how do the various inhabitants of the ORBIT universe and the League Worlds view the universe and their place in it. I don't mean necessarily from a philosophical view, but from the pov of everyday life and the things one has to do to live in the LoAW.


As the default youth character leaving on Wandershen it's the end of parental supervision, it's the fear of the unknown, it's the thrill of discovering who you are for yourself.  In short, it's each of us at one time in our lives.  

As to the pov, League citizenship represents a coming of age achievement.  Characters know that they will be able to follow their true calling and work in a job they really enjoy.  The League grants this opportunity because it's such an immense collaboration of different civilizations.      

And if I might be so bold, it's the ideal libertarian government body.  So even though the League is you know, 'THE LEAGUE' daily life isn't some 1984 bureaucratic nightmare.  Though it's not Star Trek's 'everything (and everyone) has its place' Federation either.  But the chaos of so many different life forms living and working together is more colorful puzzle, than problem to overcome.  

Seriously, if you're a League citizen, deep down you believe that you're a squirrel and the galaxy is your nut.

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Does this mean that there are no careers or occupations that do not require going walkabout?
Exactly.  Everyone goes (except for military and law enforcement).

Quote
Does the universe of ORBIT have an overall story arc of some sort, or is this left very much up to the players and the GM? Furthermore, is there a "dark side" to the universe of the game, or is that something that doesn't fit well with the somewhat positive nature and approach to the game?
There is no story arc.  But there are a few dark and awful things lurking out on the Frontier and a some sinister things going on within the League itself.  From the standpoint of a youthful life form on Wandershen the galaxy is one big adventure waiting to happen. On the other hand, from a veteran Marshal's viewpoint it's not all guitars and hot rods out there.

The dark stuff fits in fine.  But your default starting point (even from the Player's perspective) is one of the Wandershen mind set.  That was by design.  I wanted player pov and character pov to mesh, to really put players in the game setting.  The dark stuff they might discover later on, but they would do so at the same time their character discovered it.
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JSDiamond
Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2004, 07:20:40 PM »

Orbit is not science fiction.

Orbit is a road trip movie set in space.

And thats a Good Thing.
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JohnK
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2004, 06:19:43 AM »

Hullo, Jeff,

In a message, I wrote:

Quote
I rather like the idea of a positive or somewhat optimistic view of the universe, although I think the original STAR TREK's attitude was a bit too positive. What this raises is the question of exactly how do the various inhabitants of the ORBIT universe and the League Worlds view the universe and their place in it. I don't mean necessarily from a philosophical view, but from the pov of everyday life and the things one has to do to live in the LoAW.


Quote from: JSDiamond

As the default youth character leaving on Wandershen it's the end of parental supervision, it's the fear of the unknown, it's the thrill of discovering who you are for yourself.  In short, it's each of us at one time in our lives.  


   The whole Wandershen thing is one of the things I really like about ORBIT, Jeff, as it provides a nice, non-confrontational way for the players to be "out there" in the universe, and gives them a good reason (in my opinion) to get together and work a bit together.  The fear of the unknown is one of the best motivations for getting player characters together, and doesn't seem as artificial as "You're all sitting in the bar, when..."  

Quote

As to the pov, League citizenship represents a coming of age achievement.  Characters know that they will be able to follow their true calling and work in a job they really enjoy.  The League grants this opportunity because it's such an immense collaboration of different civilizations.


    Ah, that explains a good deal.  I had wondered about how the League might view this sort of thing, and the "coming of age" rite of passage fits in very nicely with what I envisioned here.   Just makes me wonder if every character has a true calling, though...
       
Quote

And if I might be so bold, it's the ideal libertarian government body.  So even though the League is you know, 'THE LEAGUE' daily life isn't some 1984 bureaucratic nightmare.  Though it's not Star Trek's 'everything (and everyone) has its place' Federation either.  But the chaos of so many different life forms living and working together is more colorful puzzle, than problem to overcome.  

Seriously, if you're a League citizen, deep down you believe that you're a squirrel and the galaxy is your nut.


    Hmm, I'm going to have to remember that line about the squirrels and nuts analogy. :)  On the subject of the races, I would have thought that such a diversity of lifeforms would have led to some...conflict...and that the League wouldn't be as peaceful-seeming as it does at first glance.  I assume that there's all kinds of political and economic games going on under the surface?

Quote from: JohnK

Does this mean that there are no careers or occupations that do not require going walkabout?


Quote

Exactly.  Everyone goes (except for military and law enforcement).


   So there are absolutely no exceptions to this rule?   Other than characters from Non-Allied races?

Quote from: JohnK

Does the universe of ORBIT have an overall story arc of some sort, or is this left very much up to the players and the GM? Furthermore, is there a "dark side" to the universe of the game, or is that something that doesn't fit well with the somewhat positive nature and approach to the game?


Quote

There is no story arc.  But there are a few dark and awful things lurking out on the Frontier and a some sinister things going on within the League itself.  From the standpoint of a youthful life form on Wandershen the galaxy is one big adventure waiting to happen. On the other hand, from a veteran Marshal's viewpoint it's not all guitars and hot rods out there.

The dark stuff fits in fine.  But your default starting point (even from the Player's perspective) is one of the Wandershen mind set.  That was by design.  I wanted player pov and character pov to mesh, to really put players in the game setting.  The dark stuff they might discover later on, but they would do so at the same time their character discovered it.


   I'm glad to see that there is a darker side to ORBIT's universe, even if the player characters don't get to see it right away...of course, their naivety about the universe may help with that to begin with, unless one starts with a more experienced player character.  That said, I can see some players and GMs wanting a darker game at times, especially those coming from the cyberpunk games and the like.  A lot of the rpgs out there these days present very bleak visions of the universe and/or the world, although of course, bleak does not necessarily equate to dark.

     JohnK
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JSDiamond
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2004, 01:57:44 PM »

Quote
I assume that there's all kinds of political and economic games going on under the surface?
Exactly correct.  But almost all of the inside stuff is for the GM to know.  So as not to be a spoiler for the players.  

Quote
Just makes me wonder if every character has a true calling, though...
That's the other side of the coin --not all characters want League citizenship, some are no doubt looking at this as an "I'm outta' here!" on the League's nickle.  And I mention that in the book.

Quote
So there are absolutely no exceptions to this (wandershen) rule?
Very few.  Arach that don't leave the hive don't go, because they will never leave their homeworld.  Those (of any race) who are training to go into League service don't go either, they are placed immediately into their League jobs.  Though usually posted outside of League Space anyway and at the crappiest backwater assignments.  

Of course there are also the 'endowments' granted by the wealthier families to various local, planetary or occasionally system-wide social and political causes that ensure that their children may continue being groomed in the family businesses, politics, etc.  

But for the other 99% of the population, if you were born in League Space (to citizen parents) then you gotta' get going, sometime between your 16th and 20th birthdays.
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JSDiamond
JohnK
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2004, 08:18:35 PM »

Hullo, Jeff,

I wrote:

I assume that there's all kinds of political and economic games going on under the surface?

Quote from: JSDiamond

Exactly correct.  But almost all of the inside stuff is for the GM to know.  So as not to be a spoiler for the players.  


    This is good to hear.  The inside stuff in a lot of rpgs these days seems to be split up and mixed in to a lot of the chapters, other than the background material (and sometimes even that).  The intrigue should not be known by the players, to be honest, as it spoils their enjoyment of the game down the line.

I wrote:
Just makes me wonder if every character has a true calling, though...

Quote from: JSDiamond

That's the other side of the coin --not all characters want League citizenship, some are no doubt looking at this as an "I'm outta' here!" on the League's nickle.  And I mention that in the book.


    That's a good approach to have added to the book, since I'm sure it will occur to a lot of players that their characters are out there at League expense.  Kind of neat, when one thinks about it. :)
I assume there are specific reasons for the fact that some planets don't want League membership, or am I mistaking "citizenship" for "membership"?

I wrote:
So there are absolutely no exceptions to this (wandershen) rule?

Quote from: JSDiamond

Very few.  Arach that don't leave the hive don't go, because they will never leave their homeworld.  Those (of any race) who are training to go into League service don't go either, they are placed immediately into their League jobs.  Though usually posted outside of League Space anyway and at the crappiest backwater assignments.  

Of course there are also the 'endowments' granted by the wealthier families to various local, planetary or occasionally system-wide social and political causes that ensure that their children may continue being groomed in the family businesses, politics, etc.  

But for the other 99% of the population, if you were born in League Space (to citizen parents) then you gotta' get going, sometime between your 16th and 20th birthdays.


    Thanks for clearing this up.  It makes sense to me, btw, and you at least explained this rather than taking the cop-out of "That's the way the wandershen is set up!" attitude.  Hmm...is it possible for a character to be born in League Space, but not be a citizen?  Would that make them exempt from the rule?
 
     JohnK
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JSDiamond
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2004, 09:21:43 PM »

Quote
I assume there are specific reasons for the fact that some planets don't want League membership, or am I mistaking "citizenship" for "membership"?
'Membership' is correct.  Many more worlds (like present-day Earth with multiple nations, as well as further advanced planetary governments) have opted to not join for their own reasons.  Many of these worlds are within the spacial (?) borders of what is known as League Space.  But the League doesn't go around conquering worlds.  League membership is an offer.  Some civilizations cannot (or do not) want to commit resources necessary for being a working member of a galaxy spanning multilateral governing body.  Some don't like the League.  Some civilizations are so alien that perhaps they see no common goal to be accomplished.  Some may simply need more time to decide.  The reasons are varied.

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The intrigue should not be known by the players, to be honest, as it spoils their enjoyment of the game down the line.
As a matter of fact I designed the layout of book that way.  It always bugged me that a person would start a new character and no matter what their background was, they would have a working knowledge of *everything* about their race, or civilization.  Though this is no fault of the player since all that obscure info was right there in the race description to begin with.  That info just shouldn't have been there.

Quote
Hmm...is it possible for a character to be born in League Space, but not be a citizen? Would that make them exempt from the rule?
Yes.  Being from a non-League member world they would be exempt since League laws only apply to League governed worlds.  All of this is mentioned straight away in the sidebar on page 1 which gives a brief overview of what typical and non-typical Orbit characters are like (for the purpose of generating them).
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JSDiamond
JohnK
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2004, 06:48:53 AM »

Hullo, Jeff,

I had written:

Quote

I assume there are specific reasons for the fact that some planets don't want League membership, or am I mistaking "citizenship" for "membership"?


Quote from: JSDiamond

'Membership' is correct.  Many more worlds (like present-day Earth with multiple nations, as well as further advanced planetary governments) have opted to not join for their own reasons.  Many of these worlds are within the spacial (?) borders of what is known as League Space.  But the League doesn't go around conquering worlds.  League membership is an offer.  Some civilizations cannot (or do not) want to commit resources necessary for being a working member of a galaxy spanning multilateral governing body.  Some don't like the League.  Some civilizations are so alien that perhaps they see no common goal to be accomplished.  Some may simply need more time to decide.  The reasons are varied.


    I'm glad to see that the League doesn't have every system and every world in its fold within its own boundaries.  And you've given me examples of reasons for not belonging to the League that make perfect sense, and seem to have solid background behind them.  You said that the League doesn't conquer worlds or systems, but does it at times exert influence to bring the worlds into the fold, or are they very much "you don't want to join, that's fine" about things?  I mean, the intra-League politics and manoeuverings must be there, too...

Quote

The intrigue should not be known by the players, to be honest, as it spoils their enjoyment of the game down the line.


Quote from: JSDiamond

As a matter of fact I designed the layout of book that way.  It always bugged me that a person would start a new character and no matter what their background was, they would have a working knowledge of *everything* about their race, or civilization.  Though this is no fault of the player since all that obscure info was right there in the race description to begin with.  That info just shouldn't have been there.


   Interesting that you've taken this approach to the matter, since a lot of game systems assume that if the player is going to play a Shrekian, they should know *everything* about Shrekians and their lifestyles.  I think that every race should have something the players don't know about, since humanity is a good example of this.  Many of the folks you meet in your daily life have no idea about some of the stuff that's in the background of the human race and homo sapiens.

Quote

Hmm...is it possible for a character to be born in League Space, but not be a citizen? Would that make them exempt from the rule?


Quote from: JSDiamond

Yes.  Being from a non-League member world they would be exempt since League laws only apply to League governed worlds.  All of this is mentioned straight away in the sidebar on page 1 which gives a brief overview of what typical and non-typical Orbit characters are like (for the purpose of generating them).


   Ah, okay, I didn't know it's actually in the rulebook, since I don't have my copy yet. :)  On that subject, how detailed does the book get about League politics and social structure, hierarchies, demographics, and that sort of thing?

     JohnK
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JSDiamond
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2004, 11:22:40 PM »

Quote
Does it (the League) at times exert influence to bring the worlds into the fold, or are they very much "you don't want to join, that's fine" about things? I mean, the intra-League politics and maneuverings must be there, too...
No doubt about individual civilization maneuverings.  But for the LEague, it's the velvet glove approach.  But of course governments individually within the League (for their own reasons) occasionally send military scout missions to some planets prior to first contact.  Even if this violates the League Protocol Protection laws for non-starfaring civilizations (and those unaware of the busy galaxy in which they live).  I don't cite every possible example, but I hope that GMs and players will suggest some underhanded maneuvers of their own.      

Quote
I think that every race should have something the players don't know about, since humanity is a good example of this. Many of the folks you meet in your daily life have no idea about some of the stuff that's in the background of the human race and homo sapiens.
Exactly.  The example I use in a short section of so-called common items is that in real life there are peope who don't know the difference between a Phillips Head screwdriver and a regular one.  To further this point to the GM, there is a section on info that only the GM should know and I've broken it down into two categories: By civilization of origin and by career.

Quote
how detailed does the book get about League politics and social structure, hierarchies, demographics, and that sort of thing?
There are descriptions of those things (in varying detail) within each civilization/race section.  I tried to key in on 'what would be known' by most sentients regardless of civilization who keep up with galactic news, etc.
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JSDiamond
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