Sciror is a sci-fi/ horror game background in the classic grimdark mould. It’s derived from Philverse, my rabid fanboi ramblings on how 40K makes perfect sense. I’m a massive fan of 40K, so the best description of Sciror is ‘grown-up 40K’. Harking back to the ’87 Rogue Trader but with more Event Horizon, Aliens, and a good dollop H.P Lovecraft thrown it. Each of these classics will be ground through my mind and crafted into something ‘beautiful’.
One of the design parameters is to mess with preconceived ideas, to twist common tropes, and to make a game universe that seems familiar but unfamiliar. I wish to wrong-foot the reader. To ramp up slowly, starting with a positive setting that turns into a nightmare. No one is at fault for the change. This is a natural disaster brought about by our human imagination. We are psytient (possess low-level psionic powers) and we remake reality in our own image. This is also a play on the religious idea of the logos, magic words that weave reality out of chaotic potential.
The Grand Narrative is human survival, and our inventiveness to do it, and the only enemy capable of taking us out is ourselves. This post outlines the skeleton of the grand narrative of Sciror, the underlying meta the drama is built on, threading the seven era together;
1 – Today
The Sciror timeline starts with our reality. The first era is our present-day world, along with Earth’s history. Everything is as it is, except the explanation for ‘psychic powers’ links into humans being Psytient, and actually having latent or minimal psionic powers! You could play in this slightly altered world, as the universe set-up is the same as the rest of Sciror, but it is not noticeable. everything has to stay within the realm of interpretation and luck. Having said that, if you want to adapt Indiana Jones, or give Nazis or Communists occult powers, you can do that. The meta is all there for the taking ;)
2 – Visions of the Near Future
The first step into the Sciror future is a reasoned speculative vision. It deals with the housing crisis facing England using ECORR, and adapting this new architecture paradigm to other environments. Runs with technologies we are working on now, and introduces pivotal technologies that change our destiny. The aim is to create a vision of the future that people would actually like to live in, and address many of the concerns raised by pressure groups, lobbyists, and activists.
Theme: Solar Punk
3 – The Supremacy
Sciror plays with tropes, where the Supremacy era starts with the novel notion that Artifical Intelligence works out for us! I know, nuts eh? In Sciror the AI are called Artilects, and they are the size of planets. Titanic crystal structures built with bio-photonics covering whole worlds. Draining power with geothermal vents and bolstered with star-engines. Humanity and the Artilects create the Supremacy, an inter-galactic empire, working together. Humans are the Navigators for the Supremacy’s FTL jump-drive ships. In a blink of an eye, a ship can jump to any point in the known Universe. It does this by dropping into the Warp. This alt-space is the boundary between reality and the Infinity. The Infinity is a point space, so the mix of the two results in dimensions within the Warp being ‘compressed’. The deeper you go, the shorter the distance. This technology allows us to conquer the whole Universe. Humans everywhere! This is the Golden Age of Humanity, but all good things must come to an end.
Theme: Mecho-Communist ‘Utopia’
4 – Psidemic
A common trope is that Artificial Intelligence betrays us. In Sciror this is turned on its head. The fourth era starts when humans betray the Artilects! This betrayal event is called the Psidemic. Humans have always had psionic abilities. It’s how we Navigate Supremacy ships. What no one knew, least of all the Artilects, is that population density creates psionic-synchronisation if we think similar things. This psionic-synchronisation destabilises reality. Our combined thoughts can reach through the Warp, cross the barrier, and grasp the Infinity. That is touching god and accesses the power of creation itself! As you can imagine that is playing with a whole new type of fire.
Locally, on a single world, this can create miracles and prophets. For an intergalactic empire, this brings about the birth of gods — beings of immense power that can, and do, challenge the machines. Overnight the entire Universe is overwhelmed with raging gods laying waste to all. Unable to control their powers they rend holes in reality. What they let into the Universe is our nightmares. Demons of our Id. Trillions of worlds are lost to us. Countless numbers of people die.
The Machines do not help us. Instead, they withdraw from blighted worlds due to Mars Accord article 5 violations: humans are forbidden to kill humans by the machines, else the machines impose a technology sanction. The ‘demons’ have human DNA, and are classed as ‘human’. So, humans killing demons is really: humans killing humans as far as the Machines are concerned. There is confusion amoung humans as some demons convert to humans on death leading many to believe they are experiencing hallucinations (the ones who believe this die the quickest). The Supremacy collapses.
The Machines thought they were creating stronger human psionics through careful breeding and management. In reality, their exponential population growth was weakening the great barrier with the Infinity, and it was the environment that was creating the stronger psionics. By the end, we are cold and isolated.
With the collapse of the Supremacy, the machines are gone, along with them our all powerful military. It is ironic that we never encounter any aliens in the Universe, and never needed our super-powerful military, but as soon as demons show up they run off. The one time we actually need them!
As a result, the technology we humans have access to is drastically diminished.
Humans fight back using what we have, game technology, both VR remote and full cosplay battle suits! Humans hack lower technology, and the game supporting virtual industries built by machines to keep us occupied. The machines did such a good job in their simulations that VR tech assets can be transported to hacked fab-units and made for real. Now humans are armed with custom cosplay body armour, and all those fancy weapons in games: turns out they work! The ‘Legionaries’ are adrenaline junky gamers fighting for real.
This brings the fourth age to a close.
Theme: Gamers vs Demons, Cyber Punk but against demons not government.
5 – Reunification
The fifth age starts with the birth of a new Empire, founded on ‘Gaia’. Not our Gaia, that is long gone. The problem with organising an intergalactic-empire, is you run out of names. All the planets are named Gaia, followed with a number. During the Supremacy this was Gaia-0,000,000,000,299,957,492,730,457 but no one is counting, so it’s now just ‘Gaia’.
All worlds experience psidemic-events, some worse than others. On this particular Gaia, the god that is created is remarkable because he is not insane. He actually likes humans! On this Gaia the Greek myths came to life, the ruler is Jove* (the English name for Zeus), and he is an expert in technology. Weird psionic technology. Jove takes to the stars to reconquer the galaxy, using his new Eldritch-Drives. He, and his armies, battle the gods and demons of many worlds. The remnants of humanity are reunited though Jove into a galaxy-wide trading empire. Capitalism flourishes, lifting trillions out of poverty once more. Through the power and vision of Jove, we recover from the Psidemic. In our myths, the Psidemic becomes ‘The Fall’. The Machines of the Supremacy are demonised. We look out to the stars, to other galaxies, but we know the light reaching us is a lie. It is all dead out there. Or so we think.
*Jove is the English name for Jupiter, which is the Roman name for the Greek god Zeus.
Common epithet ‘by Jove!’ (no, I’m not designing an entire era around a British saying! :P )
Theme: Greek/ British Empire?
6 – Stare into the Abyss
Change from Greek to Roman design themes and names. Jove still reigns over the Commonwealth, but all is not well. Galaxies are disappearing on the edge of the Universe. Jove’s power is diminished. He is ageing, and as the years pass his great mind is addled with dementia.
The Eldritch-drives still work but require real-world energy to be pumped into the void-wards.
As people within a psidemic-zone die, as sentient and psytient minds disappear, their concepts and thoughts disappear with them. This destabilises the Infinity power brought into reality. The Infinity reverts back to being ‘the Infinity.’ As the Infinity is a point-space, that means the entire psidemic-zone collapses to an infinity small point and ceases to exist. This has the effect of pulling the surrounding space in to fill the void, shrinking the reality field of the Universe.
Theme: Roman/ Grimdark
7 – Return of the Machines
Jove is dead. All the gods are dead. The link to the Infinity is cut. The declining population, and the slaying of so many other gods throughout the galaxy, removed psionic-events. The other gods acted as anchors to the Infinity, giving form to creation, and Jove removed them. The seeds of his own destruction. The Eldritch-drives no longer work no matter how much power you pump into them. Machine jump-drives still work.
The Psidemic irreversibly damaged the Universe’s reality field. The rate of shrinking is accelerating. As it shrinks, more and more galaxies are swallowed up, ceasing to exist. The Machines of the Supremacy travel to the epicentre of the collapse. Which brings them back to Gaia(-0,000,000,000,299,957,492,730,457 :P). Reunited, the machines and humanity, consider how to escape the end of the Universe.
Theme: Grimdark +
Hearing feedback is very important to me in developing my ideas. Much of my designs are inspired, and crafted, by chatting to fans on forums before snowballing into a full concept you'll find here. I would like to thank all those who have contributed critiques and participated in discussions over the years, and I would especially like to thank all those who commented on this specific topic. If you would like join in, you are most welcome!
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