Power Armor

Power Armor
Khurasan power armor infantry with conversions

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sci-fi Fluff: Background for Off World

For my upcoming Off World rules, I am preparing some background fluff, a "future history" for players to use in games.  The fluff is by no means mandatory, and is mostly an excuse for me to have a bit of fun and burn some word document bytes.

The setting is primarily in the 2200's, during which humanity has spread into the stars.  The solar system is heavily developed and populated, and there are significant extra-solar colonies.  Humans travel faster-than-light using "light drives," which get around the problems of inertia, time dilation, etc.....because I say so!

The main protagonists are the United Nations of Earth and Mars (UNEM) and the Organization for Interstellar Progress.  The biggest historical events of the universe--other than the expansion of humans beyond Earth--are the Kyushan War of Independence, in which a verdant human colony world got its independence from the UNEM; and the Amalgam War, in which Earth was infiltrated by an invading alien ecology which rapidly evolved into an intelligent, military force.  (If you've read the Cthorr books by David Gerrold, that will sound familiar to you.)

Here's the fluff so far; it will be presented in a similar format in the rules.  Each fluff section will be followed by unit orders of battle and statistics for vehicles, weapons, and other force-specific details.

The United Nations of Earth and Mars:

The primary interstellar power until the Amalgam Invasion, the United Nations of Earth and Mars (UNEM) was a loose alliance of terrestrial, Martian, and extra-solar nations and colonies, beginning in the early 22nd century.  The UNEM was a free enterprise, democratic system, with strong elements of both socialism and mercantilism. Attempts by the UNEM to exert stronger control over their periphery led to several expensive and costly wars with both rebellious colonies and the Organization for Interstellar Progress (OIP).  These wars and policies drove the once prosperous UNEM into economic collapse in the mid 23rd century.  Following on the heels of the collapse was the devastating Amalgam Invasion, which the UNEM only narrowly defeated, with the assistance of both the OIP.  The UNEM is now a second rate power, mostly centered on Earth, though they still possess considerable manufacturing assets in the asteroid belt and one of the Martian states.

The Organization for Interstellar Progress:

The OIP was born of human colonial and corporate interests, with their center of power around the Maritan-Jupiter axis in the solar system. Reliant upon Earth-grown foodstuffs, the OIP was unable to be truly independent from the UNEM until the successful independence movement on Kyushu in the early 23rd century, which gave human colonies everywhere a source of food stuffs not reliant on Earth pricing and transport. 

The OIP is a consortium of business interests, with legal authority over large tracts of space and numerous solar and extra-solar planetary masses.  Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Kyushu and several other large-scale colonies are full members of the OIP.  The OIP became the predominant human power after the Amalgam War, due to the damage dealt to Earth during the fighting.  Numerous OIP forces fought alongside the UNEM against the Amalgam during the war, though UNEM-OIP relations remain mediocre.


Kyushu is an earth-like world in the “goldilocks” zone of a star 65 lightyears from Earth.  Its chemical and geological makeup is strikingly similar to that of Earth, such that life forms there are terrerstial in appearance and makeup.  The primary land mass on Kyushu is a continent roughly the size of Australia, with several outlying archapalegos.

Kyushu was discovered in 2110, and the first wave of settlers arrived via light drive some 10 years later.  The planet’s environment allowed agriculture to take hold, but UNEM trade regulations prevented the planet’s population from selling their foodstuffs off-world.  By the 2230s, this became a serious enough bone of contention between the now-large population of Kyushu that an independence movement declared Kyushu’s sovereignty in 2234.

The Kyushan War of Independence followed.  The UNEM Marine Corps landed in 2235, defeating the Kyushan Armed Forces in a brief but intense conventional war.  The Marines withdrew and handed over occupation of the planet to the Army, which quickly found itself in the midst of a large-scale insurgency.  Some of the Kyushan conventional forces remained, raiding from strongholds in the heavily wooded highlands, while insurgent forces in the cities and along the coast played havoc with trade, civil authority, and rebuilding.  The Kyushans were supported with arms, supplies, and capital by the OIP, who wanted Kyushu independent so that the planet’s farms could feed growing OIP possessions in the solar system and elsewhere, then beholden to Earth foodstuff prices. 

The UNEM Army fought for five years to defeat the insurgency, and when they were nearly successful in doing so, the Organization for Interstellar Progress intervened with conventional forces.  Before full-scale interstellar war broke out between the UNEM and the OIP, the UNEM agreed to a structured independence agreement.  The UNEM Army and Colonial Authority fully withdrew from the planet eight months later, in 2241.  Kyushu formally joined the OIP shortly thereafter.

The Kyushan War of Independence is the largest conflict fought outside the Solar System to date.  At the height of the war, the UNEM Army deployed almost 500,000 troops to the planet, in addition to 150,000 OIP troops, tens of thousands of third-party military contractors, scores of warships, and the estimated 500,000 Kyushans who fought in the conflict as either uniformed combatants or insurgents.

The damage of the war, an unsettled marketplace, and a severe drought sent Kyushu into a deep economic depression, and it would not be until the Amalgam contamination of Earth, and the resultant crash of the Earth agricultural export economy, that Kyushu became humanity’s breadbasket.  

The Amalgam:

Even years after the Amalgam War, the alien species remains a mystery.  Equal parts military invasion and ecological menace, the Amalgam appear to be based upon a programed molecule designed to mutate other biological material into progressively larger lifeforms, beginning at first as mold and fungus, advancing—given time—to megafauna proportions.  

The Amalgam is life run amok—a sort of weaponized, cancerous mutagen that can corrupt and change an entire ecosystem.  Once the Amalgam becomes established in an environment, it will eventually produce self-aware, determined life forms capable of decision making and strategy.  By this phase of a war with the Amalgam, only desperate measures will defeat them—and then at great cost.

The human experience with the Amalgam was catastrophic.  Here are the facts:

2250s               Bioloists and zoologists discover entirely new species of fungi, mold, and bacteria in several of Earth’s more primitive areas—among others, the Australian outback, the Congolese jungle, the Amazon basin, and the Canadian tundra

2259                Bacterial outbreak of unknown origin ravages North American west coast, Europe, South East Asia

2261                Mass extinctions of animal and plant life in areas of the planet where fungi and mold had been discovered in previous decade

2262                New life forms appear on earth—gross perversions of terrestrial life, often exhibiting chimeric characteristics of other lifeforms

2263                Entire human populations of isolated communities around the world begin disappearing

2264                Combat organisms first appear.  Most are human+ in size, attack isolated communities, outposts; heavily populated areas see rash of murders, mutilations, and disappearances.

2 July, 2265     Official beginning of the Amalgam War: Massed assault by Amalgam combat organisms on the Corporate City (Los Angeles)

2265                UNEM commences large scale military campaigns against Amalgam attacks in North and South America; Africa; and Asia

2266                OIP Expeditionary Force arrives to support UNEM operations ; OIP force eventually includes contingents from every human colony.

2267                Areas where initial fungal discoveries were made now fully converted Amalgam ecologies—hostile, alien environments inhospitable to terrestrial life

2267-2271       War continues at relative stalemate. UNEM/OIP trade territory for time.  Human deaths on Earth approach 300 million.  Weather patterns shift as Amalgamation of Earth affects atmosphere.  Amalgam spread into world’s oceans.  Onus of operational command shifts to OIP.

2272                Scientific breakthrough finds variety of weak points in Amalgam genetic structure.  Development of biological weapons for use against Amalgam begins.

2273                Amalgam combat organisms increasing in size and lethality.  Living amalgam spacecraft lifts from Amazon Basin and crashes into Orbital One, invading the self-enclosed space structure with combat organisms.

2274                Second Battle of Denver results in mass defeat of UNEM 2nd Army Group.  Amalgam break into Rockies Refugee Zone; 50 million humans dead within one month.

2275                First anti-amalgam bio weapons deployed against Amalgam forces outside Hanoi.  Tactical success, program is OK’d for strategic use.

2276                Large scale use of Amalgacides inflicts mass destruction on the Amalgam base areas.  Amalgam adjusts physiology and survives, but are permanently weakened.  UNEM-OIP forces launch general offensive against thinned Amalgam lines.

2280                Final mopping up Amalgam-controlled areas finished.  Amalgam are defeated but remain an environmental pest on earth.  Large areas of rain forest, arable land, and the oceans are left dead—drained by the Amalgam and then poisoned by humans.  Earth death toll approximately 900 million; mass famine will kill another 200 million in the coming year. 

                        UNEM economy wrecked.  Hegemony passes to the OIP.  

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