What Era do you run your games in?

Anonymous's picture
October 14, 2008 - 6:01am

I run small linked games with my wife, we have not done a large campaign due to the fact were both still exploring the Era of the Frontier or better know as The History that came with the Boxed Set. Wink

beowulf took an awesome out-of-the-box approach with his Lost Worlds, New Frontiers game, Shadow Shack runs games that are many years in the future of the Frontier. What do others run? Do you tend to use books or other games to influence your "Era" in Star Frontiers?


SmootRK's picture
October 14, 2008 - 6:53am
When I had a actual campaign going, I did things just slightly later than what was going on with the printed material.  That way, all the canon or written material was historical material, and everything we did could not really alter those details and the future could go any direction we desired.

If I was to do things anew, I would probably just use the races, gear/tech, rules and such and design a new setting otherwise... possibly pitting the various races against each other in a more antagonistic way.  Only in some border regions (also greatly expanding any map of the stars) would the races be integrated, but probably with lingering prejudices.  For ease, much would still be viable for use, such as the various planetary details, dropping in a planet when necessary.

anyhow, just my take on it.
<insert witty comment here>

TerlObar's picture
October 14, 2008 - 8:40am
I like to run my games at the beginning of the Second Sathar War.  If the PC's won't be playing any of the original modules, then I like to make them be part of the history as well.  For example you can look at the background material for my Obar Enterprises campaign to get an idea of how I set things up.  If the PC's will be playing in the published modules I try to weave them into the setting appropriately.
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Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
October 14, 2008 - 10:22am
I like start mine before the Second Sathar War.  Try to build up to it.  I have never gotten close to actually starting the war though.
I use the Volturnos modules and Starmist adventure as the first exploratory probes into the Frontier, and then try to escalate within a few "years."
Time flies when your having rum.

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Sam's picture
October 14, 2008 - 11:04am
I generally ran it just prior to the Second Sathar War, too.

Will's picture
October 14, 2008 - 2:36pm

My long-running campaign has a history all its own(see the Phoenix Dawn project), as I started it up way before I even saw my first module, way before the ZEB's timeline.

I also did a pre-history of Humanity and two proto-Yazirian races way before there was even a Frontier.  

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."

—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

Fu-Man_Chu's picture
October 14, 2008 - 8:23pm
As all of my players are pretty much new to the Frontier, I decided to start my current game in the years leading up to the formation of the Frontier and the discovery of all the other races, then the Sathar.

I also modified my maps to show the "Plague Systems" as they were before they became wastelands, including the jump routes that are known. (Will, I responded on the Phoenix Dawn forum that I helped in creating those maps that you are using, and that I have some other ones you are welcome to use).


Imperial Lord's picture
Imperial Lord
October 14, 2008 - 11:40pm
Between SW1 and SW2 is the place to be.  That is before the setting gets all nutty with Zebs, allows you to stick more closely to the canon.  The peace is important because, understandably, the Second Sathar War breaking out as your characters begin at 1st level can be a little distracting, to say the least!  Therefore, going a few years before gives refs the flexibility of relative peace in the Frontier from which to draw adventures, meanwhile the Sathar are always "out there" and waiting for some grand re-introduction into the milieu.

This could come in the form of the invasion that is the Second Sathar War, per the wargame, or something else entirely.  Or, if you have something going really well without the Sathar at all, you can still run with that for several game years, if that is what is necessary for the campaign to flow properly. 

The Second Sathar War really puts a knife to a Ref's throat once it begins.  What is the point of escorting that cargo ship if the destination is about to be occupied by one of the Sathar fleets!  Which planets are getting nuked?  Etc etc.  I never understood why the designers said in the Knight Hawks book to start the war at the start of the campaign.  However, I did appreciate them mentioning the alternatives, and I certainly latched onto one, immediately.  25 years later and I feel exactly the same way.

Also, this approach limits the number of Races, allowing you to add the necessary depth to the core four and adding additional races, NPC or PC, as you see fit.  Controlling a conherent overall storyline is much easier under the pre-Zebs (and pre-SWII) campaign setting simply because there is less "stuff".  If you really like one of the Zebs races, then you can put one in, possibly even at the beginning of the campaign.  Perhaps there has been a little expansion to the Frontier. 

But I don't know anyone who likes *all* of the races in Zebs.  Some, like me, like NONE of the races in Zebs.  Hence, you immediately start to have gaping holes in the storyline, added to, don't forget, the existing gaping holes in the Zebs storyline.  Where else can you go but between the Sathar Wars to get that pure Star Frontiers experience? 

If you go back too far, you might have technological restrictions.  Plus, there are indications that the Races were actually fighting each other, something which I never really liked in the storyline.  The idea that the peaceful Vrusk and Dralasites would fight the Yazirians or Humans always struck me as ridiculous.  Tensions - absolutely.  Occasional unrest and riots?  Sure.  But open race war?  Never made sense to me, even for the Yazirians.  The dynamics between the races, as explained in Alpha Dawn, needed peace to develop coherently.  I would think that these ultramodern societies would have concluded that domination by one of them is impossible, and due to the Sathar and other threats, a mutual defense and regulatory Federation would be the wisest course. 

An attempt by one of the Races to take control of the Federation would immediately attract the attention of the other three who would rally together to resist.  Such a conflict would be a tremendously costly stalemate, at best, and the Federation was designed to avoid that.  2 races joining with the other two would be even more futile and costly, with the full understanding that under such a situation, it would only be a matter of time before the 2 "victors" fought to annhiliate each other, too.All the while, the Known Galaxy would be wide open to Sathar invasion, right when the Federation is weakest - engaged in a ridiculous race war.

Going forward is interesting, but there are many questions.  How did SWII end?  Did it happen at all?  How do you fix the holes in the Zebs storyline?  Are the Sathar gone for good or still lurking?  What about all the Zebs races?  Who is in, and who is out?  Once you're done answering all the questions, you might as well just come to the conclusion that going between the wars was the way to go in the first place, and why waste your time with all of these considerations?

Of course, the grand "Third Way" is to completely create a new setting.  The system would fit very easily into a Heavy Metal/Gamma World everything-got-blown-up setting.  Or maybe just four planets with each of the Four Races on them and then you just start exploring from there.  You could even start with a campaign with a single race that everyone plays and you slowly meet the other races and "unlock them" as potential PCs or NPC henchmen. 

The "indy settings" that I have seen have lacked coherence.  It almost seems de rigeur for these authors to make some massive, fundamental change in the storyline.  Some of them are such great deviations that they beg the question, if you disliked the storyline so much, why did you play the game in the first place?  It almost seemed that a great deal of these elements were inserted into the setting to "plant a flag" and say, "See?  I'm so creative, I changed the setting in a massively profound way!"  Meanwhile, the storyline is not helped, and may be even damaged, by the deviation.  At that point the author can either backpedal, or just ignore the flaws and move on, leaving everyone (Ref and PCs) to wonder if it was all worth it in the first place...

Additionally, to be honest, I find the Mad Max/Heavy Metal/Gamma World setting to be rather depressing.  One of the things I really liked about Star Frontiers was its emphasis on racial harmony - an interstellar meritocracy, rather than some blown up, smelly place ruled by some roided-out Cybot and his leather clad crew.  In my sci-fi, I like to stay as far away from a desert Tina Turner clad in chain mail as I can possibly get!  A temporary diversion to such a barbaric place might be fun, but a whole setting like that?  No thanks.

Overall, the between the wars choice gives you the greatest possible flexibility and the least amount of work.  It provides the simplest course while providing maximum control of your campaign's future.  And it holds up well with the books, at least the ones worth reading...


Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 15, 2008 - 2:18pm
Actually...my campaign isn't so far into the future. I merely rewrote the Zeb timeline so that one group of characters could feasibly participate in all the written materials (as opposed to the 140 year gap as written in Zebs from the Zebulon adventure to the Sathar war), and then rewrote the 30-some years worth of "future" that follows the second sathar war.

My Dominion game is merely set in the year fy111 with someone other than the UPF in control. None of my players ever got that far, most made it past the second sathar war and dealt with the earlier years of the new regime that takes over, circa mid fy-80s

Of course the fatal flaw in either timeline is --- what happens if the sathar win? LOL
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Will's picture
October 15, 2008 - 2:50pm
Of course, when I first got the Knight Hawks boxed game, and AD six months after that, there was no storyline, other than the four races fought the worms and formed a federation. That's it, no other details.

Which meant it was up to me to fill in the details. The modules were just that IMO, modular, to be plugged in and adapted or not as one pleases.

That simple.

'Nuff said. Shalom.

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."

—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation

elpotof's picture
October 15, 2008 - 2:59pm
Shadow Shack wrote:

Of course the fatal flaw in either timeline is --- what happens if the sathar win? LOL

Then you've got a perfect setting for the player characters to act as heroic freedom fighters fighting the big evil empire (...sounds familiar), a sort of role reversal!

Will's picture
October 15, 2008 - 3:04pm

Oh, Andrew, BTW, I've credited you for the map.

"You're everything that's base in humanity," Cochrane continued. "Drawing up strict, senseless rules for the sole reason of putting you at the top and excluding anyone you say doesn't belong or fit in, for no other reason than just because you say so."

—Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stephens, Federation