Ginnungagap revisited

Since finishing my cyberpunk A-Z, I’ve been thinking back on other ideas that I’ve had rattling around for a few years, and went back to thinking about my sci-fi D&D setting with space vikings.

 

In the interim since me talking about it, it seems that a good few other people have been working on turning the D&D 5E rules into a science fiction idea, which is just as well because after a point I sort of hit a wall.

I knew what I wanted to do, I had a good few set pieces worked out, including the big finale to any series of games that I might run (a super-sweet space battle, of course!) but had a hard time linking it all together, and more importantly getting the thing started.

At the time, I had issues that my play group tended to prefer using Roll20 to run. It was useful because often our group was a little dispersed but we could still play, and it worked fine when we were running my Legend of the 5 Rings game and the introductory D&D adventure. But I had issues as soon as I wanted to run something myself, because I had issues with mapping software and how I wanted the thing to go, not to mention planning it all and putting it together in the software, which I felt needed more of a tutorial (or maybe I missed it).

Anyway, Roll20 and my issues with it sort of derailed my game once I’d had people put characters together. Probably just as well, as now I want to tweak more rules all over the place.

 

But here’s my setting as it stands, in case anyone wants a read or it sparks some inspiration.

 

The PCs all come from a northern city on Midgard, one of the worlds of the Ósr Combine. It’s been decades since anyone has been offworld in sizeable numbers, and the godtech machines are starting to get a little glitchy without anyone in the know coming to service them. Mostly this involves some of the cybernetic implants going wrong, but it looks like more and more Galdramthr (sorcerers) are being born, and the world is starting to get colder and ice is encroaching on the port of the PCs hometown.

As the representatives of the gods haven’t shown up to help, it seems the gods have gone quiet or forgotten about Midgard. So the PCs have to go and look for them / go aviking. But, to do that they need a ship.

 

I had a list of new names for classes over in this post about gun proficiencies, though the rules need something of an overhaul, and it’s quite likely the classes would change a bit based on new rules put out through Unearthed Arcana and the Fifth Age rules that I’ve had a read of recently (apologies for linking to a forum that links to a forum that contains the rules, but other people are discussing them so that’s good reading, right?).

I think I’d keep the Hermathr (Fighter/Soldier), the Galdramthr (Sorcerer) and Töframathr (Wizard), and probably the Vaeringjar (Paladin). But it might make sense to include the Technician and Operative from Fifth Age, or adapt the Outlaw class from Hyperlanes that previewed on DrivethruRPG, though again I’m not sure if it works how I want it to. I’ll have to have a look.

 

Races definitely included Humans, Aelfr (Elves), Dvergr (Dwarves), Tröllr (Orcs) and Niflungr (Goblins, though maybe halflings or gnomes, or maybe all three?). I’m thinking about robots but I’m not sure if I like the idea or not.

All races would be divided by social class anyway, with thralls (serfs and slaves) being vat-born clones at the bottom rung, going up through karls, thanes and jarls. Or maybe it’s just the humans. Again, I’m working on this.

 

I think the Honour core stat shown in the Dungeon Master’s Guide might have to be used too. It fits the setting well enough, and would be useful if I could make it work.

 

Along the course of the adventure, there’s ways to work in undead and giants and robots and space battles. I have the magic worked out as an extension of the ‘infosphere’ (the internet) and magic items as godcrafted kit.

I just need to work on that opening. Hopefully I’ll think of something soon.

 

If not, I might finally talk myself into running a Vampire: the Masquerade game, or Dresden Files.

 

Z is for: Zaibatsu

Whilst many Megacorps are run by a board of directors drawn from their different subsidiaries, the corporations called Zaibatsu are instead controlled by individual families.

These families may act as a board of directors, running the holding company that manages its subsidiaries, and therefore they share a great deal with the other Megacorps. The subtle difference as a family holding, with heirs and heiresses, is an important one.

The Japanese term for these holding companies has grown in popularity, though they are also known by their Korean name Chaebol is also sometimes used in the IICP.

 

Some of the zaibatsu active in the IICP include –

Nguyen Medical – working with the Department of Health as well as private insurance companies (many of which they own), Nguyen Medical is one of the largest medical technologies companies in the world. They build, maintain and operate hospitals and equipment, and their most famous subsidiary is probably the well known Trauma Team emergency medical service.

Mitsui Sumitomo – From mineral extractions to petrochemical processing and heavy industrial manufacturing, Mitsui Sumitomo has a hand in many pies. They even have a hand in vidstream content creation and a mesh network gaming portfolio.

Toyota Aerospace – A conglomerate of heavy manufacturing and engineering projects, they build all kinds of electric motor vehicles, including the spinnercab. Their emphasis on engines and engine parts means that many other companies choose to buy from Toyota rather than develop products themselves.

Keswick Holdings – Notable for their fortunes coming from Hong Kong and the Jardine companies, the Keswick group owns large numbers of hospitality subsidiaries, mainly hotels and restaurants, as well as the construction firms who build them. One of their smaller subsidiaries imports European sports vehicles.

Cheng & Fung – Not generally thought of as a builder of products but an enabler of services, they dominate the field of logistics and supply-chain management. They do however have sizable subsidiaries in hotels, casinos and high-end jewellery, as well as smaller interests in telecommunications and property development.

Y is for: the Yellow Plague

The most recent health epidemic to sweep the world, the Yellow Plague was killing hundreds of people daily across the globe as recently as a few years ago.

Related to Streptococcus pyogenes, which even in the early 21st century was killing 500,000 people a year, the Yellow Plague was much more effective at harming the host before symptoms began to show. The damage to the internal organs, and particularly the liver, caused some of the same symptoms as Yellow Fever, and so the name quickly stuck.

 

At first barely noticed, cases began to amass in Europe and spread beyond, and more people died from consquences of toxic shock and sepsis. The UN advised a ban on all unecessary travel, but by that point the infection had spread far and wide.

 

The origins of the infection remain a mystery, but many believe the outbreak was caused by a genetically engineered bacteria that was either intentionally or accidentally released into the population of Central and Western Europe.

X is for: Xenophon

Following a series of political, social and environmental disasters, the former state of Greece fell into civil war. One of the factions that arose called itself the Ten Thousand, modelled on the ancient army of the same name.

Espousing a fascist ideal in their interpretation of Ancient Greece, a country they claimed direct heritage from, the Ten Thousand were a hard-line military group that believed in realigning the feuding city-states that were formerly Greece under a new tyrant, – the leader of their group, who called himself Xenophon.

 

In the ongoing conflict, they did not fair well, and with Xenophon imprisoned by the New Athens authorities and later put on trial for genocide, many of his followers escaped into the wider world amongst all the others fleeing the area.

 

Over time, what was once an idealised army of fascist warrior philosophers morphed to become the terrorist group called Xenophon, in honour of their ‘fallen’ leader. Whilst their tendencies to violence had continued, much of their original philosophy had warped over time.

Now favouring the Ten Thousand as the ideal arbiters of their own version of justice, their biggest crime to date has been the simultaneous destruction of Australian authorities in the name of freedom from borders – “for how can the Ten Thousand show justice to the world without freedom to travel to every place they are needed?”

 

The group is outlawed in most countries of the globe and features on a UN security watchlist, though there are some still within Reunited Greece who continue to send them support.

W is for: the rest of the World

Africa:

United by the African Union, the nations of Africa have come together to build several Pan-African projects, including the continent’s own space elevator and a reforestation effort at the edges of the Sahara.

Economic ties with Europe and the Americas have slowly been replaced with projects funded by the UN, Asian interests and the cross-border Megacorps.

 

Americas:

After decades of turmoil, North America isn’t what it once was.

The United States fractured into several successors, eventually leading to the Western Republic centred on old California, Independent Texas, the Empire of America holding the Midwest and much of the old southern states, and Free New York the last of the northeastern states not to join Canada.

Mexico and Canada have weathered the fall of their neighbour well, gaining land on their old borders and happily bolstering their populations.

Central America has also seen a boost, with UN and Megacorps beginning construction of a new space elevator project off the coast.

Following years of struggle, South America has also had its borders reshaped. The rise of the criminal cartels and their subsequent fall has left behind a patchwork of semi-recognised micronations. They are currently administered by the UN and various NGOs, trying to sew the old continent back together again.

 

Antarctica:

Following years of lobbying by corporations, human industry has arrived in Antarctica.

Whilst mineral reserves below the continent are being extracted, work is also underway to make the continent more habitable for humanity in the form of the Antarctica Arcology. A combined work of perhaps half the corporations on the planet, it could become every part the corporate state that the IICP has evolved into.

 

Asia:

Home to almost a third of humanity, the powerhouse of Asia has become the centre of modern human civilisation.

The technological rise of Japan, Korea and China has propelled great social upheaval, though it was China’s annexation of much of Siberia and the reunification of Korea being the main turning points in the last decades. The oligarchs of the new Russia Hegemony work tirelessly to build their military-industrial state, whilst the Peace Movement in India has managed to draw much of its own population out of poverty.

Peace it seems will never be achieved in the Middle East. Pan-Arabism and Zionism erupted into brutal conflict and have not calmed for some decades, save brief ceasefires for a year or two as the rest of the world seeks a resolution.

 

Europe:

The European Federation, the Russian Hegemony and Britain have all seen their fortunes rise and fall.

After Russia’s losses in Asia and the fracturing of its United States allies, it fell back to diplomatic relations with Europe, strained for decades but nonetheless. Whilst it could have no hope of joining what was now a distant neighbour, it could at least patch some of its worse ills.

Britain too had become a distant ally of the Federation, though has taken much longer to repair its links. Home to several of the largest corporations in the world, it has relied heavily upon them for economic gains, infrastructure and even governance.

Not everyone was happy with the Federation of course. From the economic collapse of Greece came the rise of the terrorist group called Xenophon.

 

Oceania and Zealandia:

With the IICP at its heart, the Pacific has gained the most in the last few decades, becoming just as much a powerhouse of economic and social revolution as Asia.

Following terrorist attacks on several Australian cities, a group called Xenophon claimed responsibility. Calling for immigrants rights and a world without borders, their attacks on the public authorities did anything but open Australia’s borders.

V is for: Vehicular transport

From the solar array atop the beanstalk, cheap electrical energy is available across the Pacific, with interchangeable, rechargeable batteries powering most vehicular transport, from motorbikes and buses to speedboats and ferries.

 

Private transport is mostly used by the rich, though autonomous vehicles acting as a taxi service help get individuals from point A to B without the public transport system.

The easiest way to do so is to catch a spinnercab. Spinners, named after and inspired by an old movie vehicle, are able to drive along the boulevards and avenues of New Pacific City but also can take off and join aerial traffic. Most spinnercabs are autonomous though some are operated by people.

The Department of Justice also makes use of armoured spinners for the SWAT teams and pick up of street arrests.

 

In industry, and particularly for loading and unloading of materials at the docks, exoframes have begun to be used.

Solid exoskeletal frameworks that allow a user to vastly increase their manual handling limits, they are slowly beginning to replace forklifts for most tasks.

An armoured modification of the exoframe nicknamed a hardsuit has been developed by the Department of Defence, though the extra weight has also increased power requirements and so hardsuits use small nuclear power cells.

U is for: UP and DOWN

On a clear day, from the base of the Beanstalk, it’s just about possible to see the small object at the top of the tether, known generally as UP.

Of course, small is relative. What was once a small, pristine microgravity habitat has extended outwards, with extra habitation and industrial modules added until now the small sprawl that is UPtown contains as many as 10,000 people.

As one of the few footholds of humanity in low orbit, UPtown is the first stop on the way to the Lagrange stations or Luna. It sees plenty of crew rotation, as people move up and down the Beanstalk, or jump on shuttles to other habitats.

 

The primary mission of the Beanstalk is to generate power. From the tip of the habitat extends a large solar cell array mimicking the branches and leaves of trees. Energy is then sent down the Beanstalk to the IICP.

The phytosteel construction of the Beanstalk itself is also able to generate some power, though to a much lesser degree than the array at its tip.

 

Most citizens never see UPtown, and so believe everything they hear and read about it. In truth, the last few years have not been kind to it.

Since the terrorist attacks on Luna and further threats to the Lagrange station construction habitats, security has become much tighter. What was once a matter for the Department of Justice and some corporate security services has slowly been taken over by the Department of Defense.

 

The finished construction of direct competition in the Pan-African Space Initiative elevator project and a new build off the coast of Central America has moved corporate and UN funding away from the Beanstalk, and more will likely be lost if the plans for an equivalent structure are finalised for the Moon itself.