PA Strategy Playtest #001: The Setting

Rubber’s on the road, and the kids are in the back seat. Time to start a strategy test run of Project Aphelion – now that all the rules are in place. Without further ado, let me get into the setting.

Welcome to the Frontier

The central default point of a campaign is Pluto, the first stop in the Frontier and the gateway to the Oort Cloud. Pluto-Charon is the furthest permanent human Colony, independent and prosperous thanks to its position as the last stop to and from the Solar System. Pluto and Charon host twin cities connected with the sprawling megaconstruction of Lethe Bridge – the last spaceport, maintenance station, and shipyard all in one.

Charon is the Colony’s seat of government, trade and provides living space for society’s upper echelons, while Pluto houses the population of blue-collar workers and ticket people – the ever-present masses on state-supported welfare. Lethe Bridge is technically not built for habitation, but in practice, many workers and their families live inside the station, as do squatters and barnacles on the Bridge’s outside hull.

The People in Charge

Most of what’s going on on Pluto is controlled by the Port Authority and the Conglomerate – a group of corporations cooperating to ensure their monopolies aren’t infringed upon. Many organizations, like The Guild (a haphazard coalition of small freight companies and junkers), work in the grey area between licensed trade and outright crime.

Syndicates control most of the organized crime and smuggling, maintaining an equilibrium with the Port Authority and keeping squabbles between various organizations to a minimum. Hundreds of gangs and small-time crooks duke it out in the squats, fighting over scraps left over by the big fish.

The Neighbors

The moon Hydra was repurposed into a giant waystation, sending travelers on their way to the Oort Cloud and the Solar System daily. Around it grew a labyrinthian network of stations, jumper ships, and makeshift infrastructure providing entertainment and services to the long line of freighters and other ships waiting for their turn on the Laser Highway.

Nix and Styx were turned into arenas for jumper racing and combat sports, with their own societies of adrenaline junkies, fans, and professional athletes.

Kerberos houses the Ranger HQ – the main office of the closest thing the Frontier has to a police force. The Rangers serve as border control, peacekeepers, and armed response to pirate activity around the Hydra waystation and the Kuiper Belt, while the policing duties on land are left to various security companies and mercs.

Lastly, the Kuiper Belt is a distant, vast repository of raw materials, coveted by Earth governments and Colonies alike. Technically supervised by the Outer Colony Council, in practice, it’s a lawless Frontier, where prospectors and mining crews live by the gun, protected from the pirates and criminals only by contracted mercenaries and occasional Ranger patrols.

Coming Up!

Starting in the next blog, I’m going to create a slice of life in the Pluto area and take Project Aphelion for a spin – starting with the 4X strategy approach and testing the details, creating characters, spaceships, and Scenarios as the game develops.

I’ll take a documentary approach to the game and let the emergent gameplay rules create the intrigue, from corporate strategies to combat tactics during skirmishes – and show off the robust rules for Solo Play, that make Project Aphelion unique.

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