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Game Overview

Orion Sphere LRP is a science fiction live roleplay game set in the distant future of our own galaxy. Humanity has discovered faster-than-light travel and colonised a large area of space, only to encounter alien empires of equivalent power. The four major Factions vie over part of the Milky Way galaxy centred on the Sol system, about 10,000 light-years across, which even the most advanced vessels would take many months to traverse.

The story begins after a period of increasing tension, as the mysterious Spacer Collective invites selected groups from each Faction to hire out its unique starships, equipped with arcane Jump Drive technology. These ships offer the opportunity to carry small crews instantly over vast distances, opening up fresh horizons for research, expansion and warfare. Players are invitees of the Spacer Collective and its partner Mega-Corps - the select few who can intervene in critical events to influence the fate of the Orion Sphere.

Events represent interventions by the neutral MegaCorps at the behest of local planetary authorities. Each event will provide opportunities to engage with local issues on planet, and also hire Jump Drive-equipped ships to travel elsewhere in known space and complete all manner of public (and secret) missions. Player groups will have the chance to earn ludicrous profits, discover unknown worlds, build the power of their factions and increase their own status and reputation, all while under the watchful eye of the MegaCorps.

Factions

The four Factions are designed to be culturally and visually distinctive. At events, each Faction has a separate camp camp, arrayed around a “hub” area (for Games Ops and NPC MegaCorps). Three of the four Factions have strong cultural roleplay elements, and their player members will be expected to participate in cultural gatherings and ceremonies.

Each Faction has a dominant species, which the majority of its attendees will be. Your character's species determines a few basic stats and access to some skills and abilities (such as the Elysian's psionic powers).

The four playable Factions are as follows;

Ascendancy - An authoritarian, militaristic regime ruled by a council of powerful aristocratic Houses. Dominated by Terrans, who enjoy relative prosperity and benefit from brutal training that fortifies their minds and bodies with the strength of their Will.

Commonality - A philosophical faction dedicated to understanding the mysteries of the cosmos, guided by a caste of Judges, who possess mysterious mental powers. The main species in the Commonality are the powerfully psionic Elysians, whose physical frailty is more than made up for by their mental abilities and psionically-enhanced technology.

Dominion - Ruled by priests and heroes, the Dominion is built around a religion whose sacred calling is competition and striving to become a legend. The reptilian Tulaki are the main species in the Dominion, a species that shows remarkable genetic diversity and resilience.

Free Union - A confederacy of fiercely independent human colonies and alien worlds, whose adaptability and diversity are their main strengths. Although the majority of the Free Union's population is human, its alien vassals enjoy equal status in society. The Free Union has less cultural requirements and a lot more freedom for divergent character concepts, but has fewer advantages as a result.

Vassal Species

While each Faction has a dominant species, they also rule over other, less powerful or numerous aliens which are under the Faction's protection. Vassal species can have access to strange powers and abilities based on their alien physiology, but cannot participate in the society of their parent Faction to the same extent as the dominant species, and draw fewer advantages as a result. Each Faction has large number of vassals, which players can choose to play with the agreement of the Game Team. Vassal species have racial abilities assigned by the game team, usually determined by the coolness and unwieldiness of their physreps. If you would like to play a member of a vassal species, please contact us with your ideas – a brief synopsis of the kind of species you have planned would be great, as well as your intended physrep plans.

See the Vassal Species page for more details.

Characters

Characters are all part of a specific Faction and species, but otherwise have a lot of freedom to come up with different builds and types. Characters have a number of points to purchase skills and abilities when created, and they will accumulate more points with each event they attend. A character's species will provide some baseline abilities, such as their starting hits and death count, but most abilities and skills are available for all characters to purchase.

Character skills are grouped into the following sets:

  • Combat Training - Weapon & armour use skills, increased hits or death count, reduced knockout time.
  • Professional Skills - Skills to work with items or investigate plot, for scientist, engineer or medical characters.
  • Starship Skills - Training to use the various consoles on a starship interface.
  • Reputation - Status with Megacorps or Factions, grants more plot opportunities and specialist missions.
  • Faction or Species-specific abilities
    • Psionic powers for Elysians and other psionic species. Psionic powers are grouped into trees such as telepathy and telekinesis, only some of which can be used by certain species.
    • Devotion abilities for Dominion priests and heroes. These grant the ability to perform specific religious ceremonies, or allow heroes to perform mighty feats relevant to their chosen path in life.
    • Discipline skills - Ascendancy Terrans are trained to overcome all manner of influences and hindrances by willpower alone.

The Game

Orion Sphere LRP events have a variety of fest and linear elements. Participants play characters from one of the 4 major factions of known space, each of which has a distinctive culture, advantages and abilities. Within the Factions, players belong to a Group, which represents spacecraft crews or various types of independent organisations working within their Faction. Groups can be one of 3 types (military, corporate or scientific), which will determine what kind of earnings they get between events, as well as signpost what kind of things the players want to get involved with to the organisers. Although each Faction will have a dedicated NPC, this will be a consultant representative of the Faction's authority - the player characters are for the most part self-governing (although they may be sanctioned if they step wildly out of line), and the Faction NPCs are not there to provide leadership or much direction.

Events will consist of players camped according to their Faction, with a central area containing representatives of NPC MegaCorps (large, specialised organisations independent of the Factions). Players will be able to interact with each other and with representatives of the planet or system that each individual event is on (who will provide plot to work through with the chance of special rewards, goodwill or being paid). The NPC MegaCorps will provide services, missions that the players can work to complete for payment, as well as the opportunity to go on space missions by hiring a wormhole-capable ship (both to set up linears, and also have player crews fly space missions using computers set up to simulate a starship bridge). This system will allow players to revisit planets that they have had involvement with in the past, and progress plots or built networks of contacts across known space.

In-character, events are hosted by the MegaCorps or other local groups such as individual planetary authorities or mining stations, etc, and game participants will be ship crews and the like who have been specifically invited to attend - this is to keep the feeling of the game somewhat marginalised, and to keep away from grandiose political themes (so while each Faction will probably send a few mid-ranked representatives (faction NPCs to serve as a link between the Faction players and the game organisers), they won't be able to send their top-end leaders to boss everyone around. Factions may have some specific missions lined up for attendees (as they will be able to access the Jump-capable spacecraft, which the Faction's don't have). The hosts technically discourage all-out violence between the factions, but don’t massively care as long as none of their resources get disrupted.

Each event takes place in an area generally free of laws and other legal precepts, as the MegaCorps who host each event generally insist on a legal exclusion zone. However, the MegaCorps provide services at events that are not accessible otherwise, so remaining in their good graces is important. The current uneasy peace between the Factions does not encourage open war at these gatherings, but there is plenty of opportunity to interfere with the activities of groups from other Factions. If player groups or individuals are seen as excessively disruptive then they may be denied certain services, or have Bounties placed upon them by the MegaCorps, which anyone else can collect. Characters with a significant Bounty on their heads might find themselves drawing the attention of Bounty Hunters or mercenary groups from across known space.

Missions

A big part of the game will involve missions to other planets or in space. While all of the factions have access to FTL travel, it is relatively slow, and takes weeks to get from system to system. One of the MegaCorps, the Spacer Collective, has ships that are able to jump across space instantaneously - this Corp hires out these ships to PC groups so that they can go on missions. Player groups can hire a ship for a timed slot to jump to an agreed destination - this gives the organisers time to prep the mission in advance. Some missions will be purely spaceship-based (which will be simulated using a room fitted out to run the Empty Epsilon Spaceship Bridge Simulator game with customised, in-character scenarios) or could involve travel to a planet and transporting down to do a ground-based mission. One of the factions, the Commonality, will have an alternative method of visiting other planets - they have psionically active plants that can be attuned (via a ceremony) to open a portal after a set time (basically the prep time for the thing they want to do).

Mission Examples

  • Jump to an area, fly to a planet, beam down and Assassinate a rebel leader on a distant planet.
  • Destroy an asteroid that will impact an inhabited world.
  • Assist a beleaguered ship.
  • Rescue some Player Characters whose ship was destroyed.
  • Intercept and destroy hostile aliens/space pirates or whatever.
  • Transport to a planet and investigate or cure an unknown disease.
  • Transport to a planet and survey/collect some strange unknown substances. FOR SCIENCE!
  • Transport to a planet, hunt some obscure alien beast and harvest its rare and precious organs
  • Investigate a planet's suitability for colonisation.
  • Scout the inhabitants of a newly discovered planet.
  • Uncover ancient ruins and looting the artefacts within.
  • Evacuate a compromised spy before they are caught and interrogated by another Faction's police.

Players can also send messages via the Spacer Collective's wormhole network to NPCs elsewhere, but there will be no real-time conversations with offworld NPCs (for game logistical reasons).

Local Issues

Every event will be set on a specific planet, which may have local plot and opportunities for the players to gain resources or improve their own and their Faction's reputation with the locals. The precise agreement between the locals and the MegaCorps is usually laid out in advance. Usually each event will take place on a different planet, and the local issues will form an overarching plot thread for that event that everyone can get involved in if they choose.

Example local issues might include -

  • A mining colony has unleashed strange hostile aliens from deep within the planet, and is looking for help dealing with them.
  • A network of bizarre ruins has been found by an archaeological expedition, and the factions are invited to look into them.
  • A territory dispute has arisen between two colony settlements over a recently uncovered resource - a share of which will be given to the group that helps the most.

Appearance and Themes

The setting is inspired by a wide range of science fiction media, but the main pitch lies somewhere between Star Trek, the Mass Effect series, and Firefly/Serenity. There is a lot of visual divergence between each faction brief for costume and technology, and they are intended to have signature looks that make the members of each one discernible at a glance.

Although the styles of the game have borrowed from a number of well-known settings, the final mix is intended to be a unique setting, and we encourage players to design characters and costume that works within the setting. For our part, we have created guidance for the look that we are going for with each faction, and are in the process of creating examples of in-game items that fit within the setting, as well as a range of science fiction set-pieces.

Most standard LRP weapons and armour types will be usable in Orion Sphere LRP - melee weapons are a viable choice, as are shields and projectile weapons such as bows and crossbows of less than 30lbs draw. Energy weapons are physrepped in the game by Nerf-style dart guns. All energy weapon physreps must use foam darts with compressible rubber heads (similiar to the Nerf Elite Dart - http://nerf.wikia.com/wiki/Elite_Dart) Light and Medium energy weapons fire the smaller versions of these darts, while Heavy energy weapons can only use their abilities with the larger “Mega” versions. Darts with flat rubber tips, suctions cups or similar are not allowed. Building some form of eye protection into your character kit, while not mandatory, is strongly encouraged.

Items & Economics

One of the main goals of the game will be attempting to earn money, improve your equipment, and use cash to further your IC goals. There are some high-end services offered by the MegaCorps which will require a lot of money to purchase (even one-shot resurrections). Basic equipment is fairly cheap, and groups will gather equipment as well as rare substances between events. Engineers and Scientist characters can modify equipment and perform research to improve their gear or unlock the secrets of forgotten technology, but these things need to be maintained, and the cost increases the more extensively an item has been improved. The idea is that there are numerous diverse components to the game - Faction politics, individual status, building networks of contacts, research and discovery, gathering knowledge and making things, but a lot of these activities can be made easier by having and spending IC money.

In the sci-fi genre, technology and how it is used is often an important part of the story. Orion Sphere LRP makes substantial use of items as the source of special powers and abilities rather than innate powers like magic or superpowers. There are a wide range of game item types that players can acquire and modify in order to help them achieve their goals and affect the setting. See the Game Items page for more details.

Core Design Principles

Freedom and Flexibility

The game is designed to allow players room to create interesting concepts, cool physreps, and and do things that make changes to the setting that endure.

  • The scale of the system will be focused on the actions of individuals and groups, rather than nations and empires.
  • A legal system flexible enough to be a threat (and to discourage players from killing NPC functionaries), while at the same time not completely suppressing assassination PvP.
  • Preserve the opportunity to revisit planets from previous games, so that plots initiated there can be followed up at later events. Once a planet enters the general game knowledge, it can be revisited.
  • Vassal race abilities to encourage cool and unique physreps and prosthetics, but their social downsides should prevent them becoming ubiquitous.
  • Flexibility on the back-end, with mechanics and systems in place to allow player freedom, while giving enough constraints to prevent the Game Team imploding with stress at events.

Immersive and Collaborative Setting

A key element of the science fiction genre is exploration of the unknown. The setting has been envisioned to allow for uncovering not only new worlds and strange phenomena, but more information about the history of sentient life in the galaxy.

  • Faction identities that are strong and distinctive, and give advantages to players who buy into them, but room left for people who want to do their own thing (the Free Union offers this flexibility of concepts).
  • The setting and background leaves room for new threats and opportunities to come from - the first wave of human habitation & terraforming probe distance lies beyond the domain of the established empires.
  • We encourage players and crew to add to the depth of the game setting in a positive, collaborative way. This is reflected in players being able to submit Vassal Species, but is intended to stretch beyond that - if you have a cool idea that you think will add to the game, we encourage you to Contact Us and we can work with you to try and incorporate your idea into the setting.

Logistics and Longevity

Systems have been created to prevent the game becoming stale or impossible to run in the long term. Setting, theme and game mechanics are designed to make it easier on the Game Team to handle multiple plot threads, on-the-fly linears and support the other design goals.

  • A wide range of linears and missions available, but not total freedom to go anywhere at any time as the means of transport (Spacer Collective starships) needs to be hired. Missions are cued by plot drops or public information posts (on a bounty board), and players will be able to choose which ones to go on and when, but this flexibility will require prep time, so total freedom (player-owned ships able to go anywhere) is impractical. FTL travel is structured to give a reason for why using the hired ships is necessary, so that they can be booked to give warning in advance.
  • Combat will be gritty, tense and story-driven, but fairly infrequent. Characters are relatively hard to kill off, but healing is slow. Missions should give opportunities to pull out and leave, with slow accumulation of Walking Wounded characters or needing to take breaks instead of a resource consumption/Total Party Kill precipice (when instant healing means you keep going and going until you run out of healing, then everyone dies).
  • No specific set-piece combats (such as mandatory large battles) demanding realistic plot reasons, as this often becomes tired and thin over time.
  • A focus on equipment as the source of special abilities to level the playing field a bit after a few years of power creep. More experienced characters should have more options available to them, but not be invincible for dedicated newbies. More powerful equipment also costs more to maintain - cash should constantly drain out of the system as player characters improve their gear. Surplus equipment found on missions can be used by PCs or sold to the MegaCorps - in most cases it is a liability otherwise.
game_overview.txt · Last modified: 2019/08/13 16:55 (external edit)