A Brief Update and the Wreck Crawling in Hyperstorm
It’s been awhile since the last dev diary entry. We’ve been a bit busy with Chthonian Highways for the last few months, but that has not been away from the development of Hyperstorm. As mentioned in the previous post, Chthonian Highways uses the same core system as Hyperstorm will be using. Consequently we have now a solid base to start defining Hyperstorm’s rules related to epic space opera action and, of course, wreck crawling.
Also, we’ve had time to think about the setting and there are some changes that will be updated to the pages soon. Basically what we are planning is to move the events of Hyperstorm from the unexplored regions to a region known in Heimot RPG as the Dead Space (“Kuollut Avaruus” in Finnish) – and yes, the name existed in Heimot before the Dead Space video games 😉 – anyway, in Heimot the Dead Space is a quarantine area which holds most of the old and now destroyed human colonies. In Hyperstorm RPG the region will be known as the Lost Expanse. The area comprises of some Nibiran and Louho colonies and of most of the original human colonies. The Lost Expanse was destroyed and abandoned during the Collapse. Currently it is held as a quarantine zone because of the existing nephilim and locust threat and the continuous hyperstorms in the area. Hyperstorms are unstable, but to some extent predictable gravity anomalies that create occasional slipstreams between the local space and some other region of space in another galaxy or galaxies.
Wreck Crawling 101
We have told in the introduction of the game that Hyperstorm RPG is about wreck crawling. The term is obviously an adaptation of “dungeon crawling” which refers to “a type of scenario in fantasy role-playing games in which heroes navigate a labyrinthine environment, battling various monsters, and looting any treasure they may find” (Wikipedia). Wreck crawling is very much the same, but instead of dungeons or underground caverns, the player characters in Hyperstorm will be crawling in spaceship wrecks, abandoned colony stations or ancient alien ruins.
Even if the term “wreck crawling” explicitly refers to crawling inside a wreck, it is used in much broader sense in Hyperstorm RPG. Here are some example locations where wreck crawling might take place.
Space wrecks are very common in the Lost Expanse, but also in other parts of the inhabited space. Space wrecks can be spaceships left to drift in space after a pirate attack or space stations abandoned by its crew because a dangerous accident or a contamination. Most space wrecks are worth the salvageable junk metal in them, but some can hold great treasure inside their dark and cold hulls.
Ravaged colonies are something that are found in most parts of the Lost Expanse. These are colonies of various sizes and stages of maturity located on the surface of a planet or a moon. Usually these colonies have been destroyed during the Collapse by the nephilim or later by the marauders or locusts.
The dangers in the ravaged colonies are often varied and perilous, but they are still considered as worth taking the risk amongst the rifters and scavenger teams, when considering the possible profit.
There are numerous unexplored worlds found on star systems that lie at the borders of the inhabited space or the other side of hyperstorm slipstreams. The worlds found on the other side of the slipstreams often have alien life or signs of lost ancient cultures.
There are signs of earlier alien cultures in our galaxy, Enigmas and other alien ruins being one proof of their existence, but the worlds beyond the hyperstorms have many more of those. This has brought up theories that an ancient culture, known as the Malachim, would originate from another galaxy. Why they did inhabit our galaxy or where they have gone is unknown, but it is certain that the Malachim ruins attract the presence of the Locusts and many other predatory or otherwise dangerous alien species.
The Malachim ruins are ancient, mostly at least thousands of years old, but the oldest ones are even tens of thousands of years old. Still most of them are intact and in amazingly good condition. The malachim ruins have features suggesting they were once inhabited by creatures roughly the size of humans. The aliens who built these structures seemed to prefer labyrinthine and multi-leveled structures with hidden passages and strange traps. Many of the ruins seem to lack any kind of energy source, but still there might be functions or features present that use great amounts of energy. To put it short, the ruins are full of surprises and dangers, but there are also powerful artifacts and other valuables to be found. These alone make it worth taking the risk.
There are also other cultures than the Malachim, but these are more uncommon. At least in the regions that are currently explored.
Dangers and Encounters
There are many different kinds of locations to go for a wreck crawl and all of those have their own dangers and risks. Some of them are natural, some designed by intelligent aliens. All the same, these are the challenges rifters have to overcome to return home in one piece with their loot.
Some of the dangers encountered by rifters are natural, like environmental hazards or hostile alien life. Sometimes the dangers are obvious, but especially in alien worlds the threats can be sudden and unexpected. There is little but experience that can protect a rifter from these dangers.
Most alien life is harmless, but like on Earth, some of the alien creatures, plants or microorganisms are predatory or parasitic or otherwise dangerous. The alien creatures in the Lost Expanse are mostly known, but there are some exotic alien lifeforms that have emerged after the Collapse, either through natural mutations or some other means. One theory is that they would have been planted there by some currently unknown agent or they could be a result of accelerated evolution enabled by nanoviruses or mutagenic alien pathogens previously unknown to the Cultures.
Secret doors and strange traps
Many space ships and stations have hidden compartments or cargo spaces. That’s nothing new, but the Malachim in particular seemed to love secret doors and peculiar puzzles. It could be as well, that we humans or other allied Cultures, just think very differently from the aliens who built the structures and we just don’t understand the meaning and the purpose of these strange contraptions.
Mostly it is obvious if a suddenly activated system is a trap meant to do harm, or it can be a booby-trap left behind by pirates or a ship crew who abandoned their ship. Sometimes, especially in case of alien ruins, these might be systems that we do not just understand and therefore don’t know to look out for and therefore put our lives in peril.
Besides constructed secret doors and booby-traps there are various weird phenomena occuring in the ravaged worlds and the alien ruins. Often it is difficult to say if these are caused by natural circumstances or by some unknown technology.
People or ships can vanish into thin air, gravity might change direction suddenly or some areas might affect the behaviour of intelligent beings or cause hallucinations.
Human technology augmented and designed by the thirteen AI’s was much more advanced than the Culture’s current common technology. The fractal technology of the Consortium is close to that, but still some technological marvels were lost to the Collapse. The Technodome techology developed by the thirteen is highly advanced, but the alien artifacts found in the alien ruins are on a completely different level. If magic existed, it would be very similar to what the artifacts are capable of. These are devices that make personal teleportation or even limited manipulation of time possible. There has been attempts to reverse engineer these artifacts, but they are too advanced. So far we have understood just some of their basic principles, but even the fractal scientists are still far away from cracking the technology behind these artifacts. Naturally this increases the prices of the artifacts and makes “artifact hunting” a potentially very profitable activity.
Artifact trade can be very, very lucrative, but there are other valuable things to look for. Amatium is a valuable unobtainium that makes stable anti-matter fuel, positronic neural circuitry and viable longevity treatments possible. It is found on few worlds, and some metacorporations pay good money for promising amatium excavation site coordinates.
Restricted or lost nanofabricator blueprints or research documents dating pre-Collapse can be very valuable too, if you just have the right contacts.
The most sought after loot is of course gold and other valuables that are easy to carry and collect. Working equipment and other salvageable gear, or ship parts and fuel are also things that are always welcome.