Space Mercs: Salvagers for hire

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Setting

History

The end of the 21st century was a great disappointment to many citizens of the planet we call Earth. By 2100, the world still remained fractured; plagues had killed nearly a billion people across South East Asia and China, the environment existed in ruins almost everywhere save Europe, Australia and parts of Africa while the United States had more or less withdrawn to deal with domestic conerns as opposed to foreign, having lost its place as a superpower to no clearly defined entity. Space exploration had barely moved beyond a few token leads into the asteroid belt. The energy crisis still remained; the advent of fusion power simply being too expensive per capita to get much of a foothold against oil, natural gas and other technologies - especially after the discovery of significant reserves across Siberia, Alaska and Antarctica's western peninsula (which created the First Antarctic War in the early 2040s between the USA, China, the then up-and-coming African Union and Argentina).

Tech had advanced, of course, but the barrier of cheap energy combined with strict monopolies of new technologies in many countries prevented many important advances from being significantly widespread accross regions - especially as conflicts broke out and many regions rescinded back into religious extremism of various kinds. It wouldn't be till 2104, however, that things would begin to change rapidly. This change began with the discovery of a strange compound known as Obitum at the bottom of Ayer's Rock in Australia. Although only five kilograms of the substance exists on Earth, it proved to have incredibly unusual properties - enough that even a milligram of it was exposed to a microgravity environment, it would kick start a fusion reaction easily.

This more or less gave space exploration the one giant leap it needed. Within the next ten years the substance would become the most valuable commodity in orbit as dozens of space stations began to be established, generating and sending power back down to Earth. More importantly, it became a vital part of propulsion systems that allowed a final settlement of mars. Of course, the wars and rivalries on Earth would spread out into space - but things were starting to change everywhere and by 2140, the entire solar system had been colonized and things had settled down on Earth as more of the material was found in the asteroid belt, allowing for the expansion of colonies in space and on other moons. When there looked to be no more frontier reachable, one thing led to another and wormhole travel was achieved in 2155, opening up the galaxy to exploration.

The modern day

Politics

The current date is December 24th, 2254 and the galaxy hosts at least 600 Billion human beings spread across 2000 star systems, six expansive blocs: The Interstellar Federation, the Caliphate, the Empire of Ziora, The Incorporated States of Google, The Alliance of Non-aligned States and finally The Diaspora. The spectrum of governments across star systems contains anything from republics and vassal states to religious monarchies and anarchic bands of pirates. Things change sometimes daily in some places, while others have remained the same since their colonization efforts. Despite some of these blocs being at odds with each other, things are at least somewhat peaceful for the moment, with conflicts being isolated to simple engagements with ships or occasionally feuds between backwater planets.

Technology

Technological levels do vary depending on where you are, but are somewhat similar accross the board. Cybernetics are common, as are cloning techs. Medical technology has grown significant enough that it is possible to achieve immortality by age, while gene-engineering for superior soldiers and crewmen is common. Space travel still relies on wormholes, which while fast limit the flexibility of exit points. Slower drives are available that offer more versatility, especially in hazardous zones. Space combat takes place regularly, though the weapons and techs used varies heavily by the faction and side in question. For game purposes, estimate somewhere a fair bit more advanced than Star Trek in some manners, but a bit more limited in others (no transporters, for instance).

Alien Life

However, even as mankind spreads through the stars and expands the frontiers, the distinct lack of other sentient life is one that is to be noted. To date, most alien life has been either very primitive or sub-sentient at best. At the same time, human attempts to replicate or create life in terms of true Artificial Intelligence has failed significantly; even the longest lived evolving program, MasterVAC 5000, occasionally fails a Turing test and has shown no sign of self-awareness.

There is one notable exception to this, however. On the 1st of February, 2254, rumors began to surface of unknown vessels within the Twilight Nebula, on the furthest reaches of human space. These vessels were not human built and appear to be incredibly advanced - but all attempts to contact or find their source has since failed as they have slipped away multiple times. Given its sheer size and distance from the rest of human civilization, exploring the nebula poses a logistical challenge further crippled by the political indecisiveness and dispute over the validity of these rumors.

Setting info: the Six Blocs

Interstellar Federation

The interstellar federation (IF) formed around twenty years after the initial wave of colonization. It comprises Earth and many of its closest planets aligned to it and is more or less a somewhat free republic based primarily on the model of the United Nations. While it would be questioned whether this makes them entirely useless when it comes to military or unified action, the fact remains that they are amongst the most powerful of the blocs, both militarily and economically. However, they are also one of the smaller ones in terms of systems - the Federation holds only a paltry 150 systems near the core of human influence where they once held easily over six hundred. This has partially been due to the actions of the Caliphate and Empire of Ziora.

The Caliphate

In 2180, there was a significant drop in secularism within the IF that led to a number of controversies with the election of radically Christian individuals amongst its leadership.

The Empire of Ziora

The Incorporated States of Google

The Alliance of Non-aligned States

The Diaspora

Who and where you are

Sardinia Station

Sardinia station is an unusual place in that its not exactly a hive of scum and villainy despite being one of the stations right on the frontiers of human exploration. In fact, as far as free-merc stations go, its a fairly upscale one and has significant standards in both its legal and its grey market sides. Regardless, its point as the crossroads of the local star cluster assures its place as a melting spots of cultures, technologies and business. Its also a good place to go if one wishes to disappear off the radar; sporting a fairly streamlined process to reshape one's identity for the right price. Its also where captains recruit new crews for their ships; often picking up members to go into missions into the farthest reaches of space.

Who you are and why you are here

Anything. Anyone. Perhaps you are a prince or princess from the Caliphate, fleeing the burdens of royalty and family - or perhaps your simply a merc, looking for his next contract; or an engineer from Google seeking to disappear under the radar before the company decides to liquidate your internal assets permanently. Perhaps you are just a wanderer, searching for where life will take you next; either way it matters not the life you had before you came here, it only matters that you are here now and you are looking for work - which is why you now have an unusual letter in your hand or mailbox.

An unusual interview

You have received a mail from Captain Martinez; a rather well known captain in charge of the Salvage ship Grouser Markham requesting for an interview if you are interested in taking up a position amongst his crew. The Grouser Markham, or Grouser for short, is just a salvage ship - but she's got a good reputation for doing other mercenary or exploration work as well, in essence being a jack of all trades. How exactly Martinez knew you were looking for work is unclear; perhaps he heard of it or perhaps he saw your posting on a board. Either way, you have an invitation to an interview, its up to you to accept it or not.

Character Generation and Dice system

The Dice System

The dice system is very simple: you roll a D20 and if you roll above 10, you win the roll and its considered successful. Rolling below 10 fails, with the number representing the degree of failure. Roll results can be affected by skills and equipment; but the max modifier is +5. So for example, if I roll to hack a console and get a 5, but have my (primary) hacking skill of 5, I add the result to the modifier and get 10, meaning I still succeed the roll.

Some situations may have modifiers that take away from the results, determined on a per scene basis and the situation in question; but in general they'll run no more than -3 at the very most.

Character generation

Upon character generation, you get 50 points to spend. There are two things you can spend points on: Skills and equipment.

Skills

Skills represent the capabilities of your character. Skills that aren't listed on a sheet are assumed to be ones that your characters can attempt, but simply dont have any modifiers to help with. These skills can be anything from medicine (with particular specializations) or engineering or electronics hacking as examples - its all up to PC ideas, though there may be a slight vetting process. Skills have ratings from one to five, one being the lowest and five being the best. The cost for increasing a skill rating is as follows:

1: 1 = barely knowledgeable above average in the skill 2: 3 = somewhat of a novice in the skill, has basic understanding 3: 6 = moderately well advanced in a skill; not the best, but not the worst either 4: 10 = pretty damn good in a skill, easily in the top 50 or 100 people in the field. 5: 15 = easily one of the top 25 practitioners in a field. If a doctor, for instance, you'd be House more or less.

Equipment

Players can have any sort of equipment, but each bit of equipment is rated on a scale of 1 to 5, which rates not just its effectiveness but level of wear. The cost scaling is the same as above. Additionally, if players choose to sink it into "equipment' rather than anything specific, they can exchange one point for 1,000 credits. For frame of reference, a 3 point weapon is roughly 2,500 credits. Credits cannot be used at the start of the game though and can only be spent at maximum 5,000 increments at a time. Weapons prices and such will be set after the first session or two. Equipment can help in certain challenges or scenarios, providing bonuses as appropriate. Nothing too silly or ridiculous, please.

1 = A piece of scrap. Something thats almost to the recycling bin but probably still has a few more hours/days of use left to it despite being thoroughly outclassed. Still better than just your bare hands perhaps. +1 modifier 2 = a third hand item; but one that still has a fair bit of life to it and isn't _horribly_ outdated. It gets the job done, which is why you use it. 3 = something brought second hand and is very close to modern day tech, but not quite there. Still very worthwhile for its price and has a good lifespan to go. 4 = Off the shelf; not the best in the world but at least its sparkling new and almost modern day stuff. Reasonable quality and build with decent capability. 5 = The best of the best. This is the really high end stuff and ahead of the curve more or less.

PC Characters go down here