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Suldokar's Wake part 3

·1386 words·7 mins

In part 1 and part 2 I introduced some of the concepts that make a character in Suldokar’s Wake Sci-Fi RPG, like stacks, keywords, types, life-forms, etc. I also showed an example of an archetype.

In this post I’ll introduce the setting.

Note: This is part 3 of a series on Suldokar’s Wake. For a list of posts about this RPG check here.

A planetary sci-fi role-playing game #

Suldokar’s Wake is a planetary sci-fi role-playing game. That means that you are (mostly) stuck on a single planet, called Zira-Ka. Space travel does exist, there are even two space gates in orbit in the solar system, but they’ve been deactivated when the last shuttle left the system after the mining company had exploited all of the planet’s frontanium resources.

It’s now a forgotten planet on the fringe of known space. It’s the last planet, in fact, before a vast region of space devoid of any light, the Cikadian Supervoid1, better known as Darkspace. And this has shaped the history of the planet…

A Short History of Zira-Ka #

Æons ago there was an advanced civilization thriving on the planet. Not much is known about them, except for what they left behind. They seem to have waged a war against a Darkspace enemy and for unknown reasons they then disappeared. They left behind many structures, some technology and colossi, and an atmosphere satiated with nanites tasked with the maintenance of the structures and the defences of the planet. The war made parts of the planet uninhabitable, damaged a moon and caused the planet to rotate in a strange manner, making part of the world stay in shadow for decades, and some even for centuries. These are called umberzones.

After these Æonics2 left, more than 13,000 years ago, a primitive bat-like species called the Orug came to thrive on the surface. They developed a special relationship with the nanites and decorated some of the artifacts and structures of the Æonics with runes and symbols. The Orugs’ main enemies, a species known as Horroms, live mostly in underground caves.

About 5,000 years ago, a dying civilization of blood-like beings called the Zyu, came to Zira-Ka from the center of the galaxy and befriended the Orug. Their culture eventually regressed technologically before finally succumbing.

Then 1,300 years ago, in what became the year of reference of the current calendar, a major space empire, called the Itori Empire, came to Zira-Ka and used it as an experimental prison planet, dumping criminals, dissidents and miscreants on the surface. This is known as the Imperial Era. The dumping stopped abruptly after 200 years and the empire left the prisoners to their own devices.

The Post-Imperial Era lasted for about 900 years (210-1,100). Time passed and the prisoners migrated and grew in number. Eventually they forgot their heritage. The Itori social engineering mutated into different kinds of societies and religions and conflicts were frequent. An economy of recycling and refitting of old tech emerged. The nanites in the atmosphere were by now so ancient that they sometimes had a hard time discriminating between important and non-important things to maintain. The holograms left behind developed more agency and detected a very ancient, underlying holofield encompassing all habitable parts of Zira-Ka. It is sentient and calls itself HoloH. Shorter periods occurred during this era, such as the Thaldo Period, known for bio-engineering3 and the Salvadic Period known for trade. The Vatori Empire4 can also retrace its roots to this Era.

Two hundred years ago, in 1,100, the “Trans-Galactic Arms” company (the TGA, prononced as a word [t’ga:]) rediscovered Zira-Ka and came to mine its resources. There was some resistance from the Zira-Kaans in what became known as the colonial wars, or sometimes the mining wars. But ultimately the Zira-Kaans were no match for the TGA. Over two centuries they depleted large areas of the planet until it was no longer profitable. They left about twenty years ago and turned off the space gates. This period is known as the Colonial Era, and while the colonizers exploited Zira-Ka, this era sparked a lot of research and made some technology much more available, like insurance through HoloH, automated surgery clinics (ASC) and Makers.

The Setting #

There is advanced technology on Zira-Ka which was left behind by those that came here or by the Æonics, but some of it cannot be reproduced, and new tech cannot be invented. There is an economy of salvage and recycling, and most people can macgyver simple things with a proper kit and enough parts.

There are airships and perhaps even a shuttle or two, but their operation is often risky (the atmosphere is difficult) and more importantly, the energy costs are prohibitive. Long-distance communications and wireless computer systems are made impossible by interference in the atmosphere due to degraded nanites, radiation or static and fragmented holofields. There are some ways to circumvent those limitations like infobursts between cities and shielding computer systems with shollock.

There is an inner frontier below the surface, with vast caves, structures, a global system of tunnels, and even lakes and oceans where gargaunts are hunted for their fat, which can store energy and is used to supplement energy-packs. Deeper still is a fungoid and hive minded empire known as The Great Mycelium (TGM).

On the surface, the Vatori Empire is the largest state and it has ambitions of becoming the only state. The New Empire4 is dominated by bloods and has a high technology level, particularly in the military and police force. The state religion is the Church of the Watchful Eye. Elsewhere it’s mostly city states, each city trying to preserve what it controls. There are some alliances between cities, like the Cradle-Arkaven Federation.

The weather is harsh on Zira-Ka and there is the Gale, a dreadful storm that combines a hurricane with nanites, atmospheric noise and holofield disturbances. It kills or drives insane all those in its way that don’t use gale armor or aren’t protected by a frontanium wall like those protecting inner cities. The Gale can destroy and alter buildings or even the very landscape.

As only the inner cities are protected by a frontanium shield, it creates a social divide. People who can afford to live “shieldside” are of a higher social status than those living “galeside.” Those living outside the cities almost always have an underground bunker where they take refuge if the Gale strikes.

Suldokar & The Shadow #

There is a song to string, a tale to tell, and a warning to heed: Something evil returns from the depths of devnull.

Suldokar is an ancient droid, a troubadour and a poet that has roamed the surface of Zira-Ka apparently forever, so long in any case that he is part of the folklore. He writes songs and poesy and tells stories, and he warns of an ancient enemy returning. People used to think he is simply malfunctioning, but now some are starting to wonder if there isn’t some truth to his ramblings…

The year is now 1,317. In the past twenty years, colossi and glowing monoliths have been sighted, strange shadow cults have emerged, long dead holids have awakened, the Gale intensified. There is talk of terrifying, nameless shadow creatures. The umberzones grow darker and colder, and in some case start to grow beyond age-old borders…

Conclusion #

In Suldokar’s Wake, you play adventurers that are drawn into Zira-Ka’s present conflicts, ancient mysteries and impending alien invasion. Most characters will be human ( bloods), some will be aliens, tank born or constructs (droids or holids). Most will aspire to augment their potential with implants in order to face these challenges.

Suldokar’s Wake can support many kinds of adventures: from bunker crawls to break-ins, cyber infiltration, (para)military ops, mysteries and faction intrigue, all while relating to the overarching threat of a returning Darkspace enemy.

In part 4 I discuss the Types in more details.

  1. A supervoid is an immense portion of space which has few known galaxies or, like in this case, none at all. ↩︎

  2. the aboriginal inhabitants are called Æonics because no one knows how they called themselves. The term Æonic is also used for the epoch and for items from that time. ↩︎

  3. this is the origin of all tank born presently on the planet. ↩︎

  4. Itori means “old empire,” while Vatori means “new empire.” ↩︎ ↩︎