After creating and reading some of the replys in this RPG.net thread, I've decided that a post-apocalyptic science fiction campaign should be my next setting. I won't just use a single world, though - I'm spreading it out across the entire galaxy.
Here's an intro taken from my book 'ALL FALL DOWN' - I'm basing it all on my setting for the story I wrote called 'VITALS'.
I cannot tell you what year it is, and that is the honest truth. We do not know for sure, but some people believe it to be the year nine thousand, two hundred and ten. How they came to that figure we do not know, but they seem comfortable with it. So we accept it.
I wish I could tell you what has happened to the human race over the last few thousand years. That is, accurately tell you. But we don’t fully know that, either. What I can tell you, and this is as concise as I can be so you will have to read the many datasheets we have on the subject, is this. And please know that even this is based upon data scattered across the Settled Systems.
About three or four hundred years after the Seedships left the Home System, which we believe was the year twenty-nine ninety-eight, yes? After they left, the whole Solar System was working towards a new goal. They apparently were satisfied that the Seedships would do their work and the future of the human race was secure, so they concentrated on creating a better life for themselves. This is conjecture, as we know that there was a long period of prosperity after the Seedship departure. The ability to travel the stars with new drives had become the reality, and instead of years the journeys were reduced to months. Mankind was outward bound.
In about a thousand years mankind had spread to the nearest stars, and had even come across the descendants of the Seedships on some worlds. These Seedships had had a long time to create their own civilizations and they were welcomed into the spread of the human race like lost children. From what we know, the first Earth Empire (as the scholars call it – if that was it’s real name we’ll probably never know) ruled many worlds in many systems.
The Empire lasted for nearly another thousand years. But then other colonies of the Seedships were found, and these people were… not so friendly. The aim of the Empire was to find the Seedship crews and bring them back into the human race, so to speak, but some of these colonies did not want to be ruled by an Earth they considered two thousand years dead. Words turned into arguments. Arguments turned into conflict. Wars started.
The Empire fractured as worlds realised that they did not need the support of the old Home System. Civil war began in many places as planets fought for independence. The Earth Empire, desperately trying to hold itself together, fought on a dozen different fronts. Then, the Great Crime occurred.
We’re not sure what the Great Crime was, but it appears that something happened to Earth’s sun. It erupted. Whether through some kind of intentional interference, a natural occurrence or even technology gone wrong, the sun exploded. We’ll never know why, truth be told. The home of the human race was wiped out, and everything we had ever learned and built on that long dead world was destroyed.
The wars continued as every system blamed the other for the destruction of the Home System. Hundreds of years passed. With the old drive technology it took a long time for fighting ships to find and reach each other, and even with reduced time dilation in effect it sometimes took years of real time for battles to finally occur, which was most likely why the war lasted so long. It wasn’t until the invention of the magdrive and the Hypercom Network that people realised that the war was futile. They were fighting the battles of their dead great-grandfathers.
The Hypercom was a massive network of data that linked all the settled worlds together, a huge datanet that penetrated small artificial wormholes for instant communication to distant stars. It transformed the colonies, now that mankind could actually talk to each other directly. It was all under the control of the first true Artificial Intelligence. Not an AI like a Seedship’s AI ball, which is a downloaded personality from a human being’s brain, but a true AI, born from an electronic network and, basically, kept alive by the Hypercom. It was as if the Hypercom Network was the brain of the thing. It was, apparently, the thing that saved mankind from total destruction.
I wish I could give you more details as to why that was, and on how it truly worked, but we don’t know that.
The AI was so successful that any information on anything at all could be downloaded as fast as thought. Technological advances increased in leaps. The future of the human race was secure. There was nothing the AI could not do. It became so successful that the human race depended on it for everything. I mean everything. Even the basics of life, such as schooling and working for a living, became obsolete. What was the point of schools if the knowledge you needed could be downloaded in seconds? There was literally nothing for the human race to do – the AI controlled it all, did it all, worked it all out. In short, the human race became complacent, lazy. The AI was the New God of the Settled Systems. This went on for hundreds of years.
So, it must have come as a huge shock when it all collapsed. We do not know why that happened. The AI shut down, was destroyed, malfunctioned, sabotaged… it just stopped. There was no communication. No knowledge. No advances in technical science that the human race had come to depend on. Without the AI, everything collapsed. Can you imagine it? Human beings staggering around as if their brains had been cut out, not knowing what to do without the AI’s guidance, not knowing where to go, how to live. The whole of mankind was virtually wiped out because they were almost too stupid to do things for themselves. Complete dependence on an information network had reduced them to virtual simpletons.
Billions died. Cut off from their sources of food and aid from other worlds that had always been shipped to them by automated starships controlled by the AI, not knowing how to treat medical emergencies, technical breakdowns and mass suicides. Wars. Famines. Pestilence. Basically, it was almost the end of the human race.
The Collapse, as we call it now, was almost a thousand years ago from what we can gather. In that time a lot of things have happened.
Of course, there were many humans who still filled their lives with knowledge and some kind of work, and these people led the remnants of the human race into the future, as best they could. They relearned how to fly starships, how to fend for themselves. A lot of the know-how was lost, however. Ships and communities rotted as things broke down. The part of the human race that you see around you now pretty much depends on old tech and scavenging to keep going. Everything around us is decaying and collapsing. Some bore the brunt of the Collapse and others… well, they were forced to change to adapt. The human race splintered, some kept themselves away from the resurgence of technology, afraid to become dependant on it again. Others did what they could to regain the lost days of old. Others tried… new ways. None of us have been completely successful. Under it all there’s a sense of rot, a sense of another impending implosion, and it’s all we can do to keep going. A lot of this tech you see about you… well, if it broke down now there’s not one of us on this ship that could fix it. We’d have to jump from star to star to find someone who might be able to help us. The three ships you saw in the docking bay are old Grim Strike Gunboats. We took them from the warship that attacked your Seedship. We’re trying to fix them up as best we can so that we can use them ourselves, scrapping what can’t be used on the Gunboats and later we’ll see if we can integrate the scrap into our ship. If we’re lucky we’ll have two of those ships operational. And we’re supposed to be the peak of current technological achievement out of the whole of the human race!
Where was I? Oh, yes, the splintering of the human race. Well, everyone reacted to the Collapse in different ways.
We’re the Aspirationists. We believe that we can regain what we lost, get past this rot and once again look to the future. It’s hard – we’ve only just begun to properly turn ore into usable tools and parts for ships. That’s what’s down on the surface of Perrox, the world we’re over, why there’s so much activity here. On the surface is our first fully working mine. We want the human race to be as it was during the rule of the AI but without the dependence on a single entity. That’s where we feel the human race went wrong. We were at peace, we were moving amongst the stars, but we were lazy and weak. It almost killed us.
The Grims are just that; they’re grim. They come from worlds where the population fell on each other to survive and out of that was born a savage civilization dependant on death and theft. That’s their future – violence and hate, even for themselves, like they know they are lost but lack the willpower to do anything about it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not stupid, but they have different morals to the rest of us.
The Peacefuls are those who have shunned tech and live on worlds where they can use the natural order of things to survive. They’re quiet and hard working and they don’t bother anyone. They’re not happy when a starship lands on their worlds but they are good traders. They’re where we get a lot of our supplies.
The Roamers… well, they roam. They pretty much stay in space for the entirety of their lives, moving from place to place in great starships and trading what they can to stay afloat in this galaxy. They’re a great source of supplies but they will do what they can to get the better deal and they spend a lot of time scavenging dead ships and settlements.
There are a lot of different groups but these are the larger ones, and then… well, then there is the New Church of the Dead Gods.