So, I’ve had an idea running through my head the last few days that has refused to let go, mostly for a setting. I’ve written down the basics, but I can’t help but keep thinking about it, so I thought I’d share.
This idea is inspired by several very different games, movies, and series. Grand Central Arena by Ryk Spoor, Spelljammer, the Starfinder RPG, and Treasure Planet. I’ll go over the basic concepts of some of them, for those who may not be familiar.
Grand Central Arena is a weird series where when humanity attempts to enter hyperspace, they end up in a pocket universe where there’s a megastructure light-years across that functions as a massive arena for different races to compete. The part of this that’s inspiration for me is that around the outside of the Arena is an eternal sky with cloud formations and other weather larger than star systems, and which is breathable. I found the mental image beautiful and fascinating.
Spelljammer is an old Dungeons & Dragons setting, where people would use enchanted ships (or mountains, in the case of dwarves) to travel between star systems in a strange in-between space. This had a lot of ridiculous aspects, such as the Giant Space Hamsters, the Spelljammer itself (a gigantic manta ray with a castle on its back that functioned as a ‘ship’ of sorts) and dozens of other weird things. I never played it, but there were a couple of novels, and a few of the ideas intrigue me.
The Starfinder RPG doesn’t come out for a few months yet, but it’s a Science-Fantasy setting by Paizo Publishing, who produces the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game (which I favor for my own games). Its core idea is that even in a fantasy world technology eventually develops to the point you have starships, plasma rifles, and the various usual bits of technology. Except that in this case, you may slap an energy cartridge imbued with the power of your god into your Holy Flamethrower. It’s crazy, but I find the basic concept fun. Yes, I’ll be buying it when it comes out, though I don’t care for the core setting of the game.
Treasure Planet is an older movie, which I only vaguely remember. It’s based on Treasure Island, of course, but I found it awesome in that while the ship the characters used looked like a classic ship, it involved a strange sort of space travel, and the black hole was neat. This meshes with the ideas from Grand Central Arena for me, creating some of my current psychosis.
So, what do we get when I throw all of these concepts into a blender and let them bounce around for a few days? We get what I’m calling the Deep Sky.
In this universe, planets still exist and exert gravity, but there is no end to the atmosphere, and people can breathe just about anywhere in the universe (of course there’ll be pockets of unbreatheable gases, but that figures). Stars are much smaller and closer to any planets, but also are still effectively their usual destructive selves. Forming a ‘ley line network’ across the universe are what I call the Light Rivers, essentially conduits of brilliant mana that cross the stars, allowing ships with the proper sails to rapidly travel from one star system to the next, without the need for gates (these exist, think Stargate). Where stars and the Light Rivers aren’t is the Deep Sky, where things grow, well, dark. Dead stars, forgotten planets, and shadowy things lurk here, many of which hate the light.
Furthermore, this is a setting where magic has replaced technology. Instead of elevators, you have levitation platforms. Golems and constructs replace robots. Instead of guns we have mana-powered fire/lightning weapons, or more esoteric energies as well. Ships are much like starships, mostly because having a solid metal shell between you and drifting until you starve to death (or between you and enemy attacks) is just good sense. Does some technology exist? Of course it would! But not on the same scale as in our world, or in a regular sci-fi universe. In this universe you might have a world that was shattered, but on which still live the inhabitants, always wary of a rogue continent crashing into their own, or a mage who built their castle on a floating asteroid.
I find all of this a neat concept. I may never use it, but it was in my head, and wouldn’t leave. Hopefully this helps get it out of my brain for a while.