I’ve talked before on this blog about the starting conditions provided to each player in Strategic Primer: a small population of subordinates, a fortress (constructed to the player’s specifications), a collection of resources, and a list of “advances” describing (incompletely) the population’s scientific and technical background. Today I’d like to talk about the story behind this—how and why you come to be there.
But first, an aside about how the situation will be slightly different in future campaigns. The current campaign began with each player’s starting position in a state of flux, that if neglected would end in disarray but if nudged led to perhaps exponential growth. In future campaigns the starting position will be somewhat stronger—several dozen workers instead of only ten, with all of them in previously-established roles—but one that’s designed to be stable but not difficult to improve. This will be helped by the addition of more “maintenance” factors to the current sole requirements of food and living space (as I’ll talk about sometime in the next few months).
Now, the story. The world (or, rather, the universe … as there are other worlds which can be reached) in which the game takes place contains cities and fortresses. While it is presently at peace, there has been bitter war in the past, and the system of fortresses—mutually independent and independent of the cities—was established long ago for the world’s defense.
In another universe, several groups—there’s no way of telling who yet, as you’ll see—independently tried to insert their own agents as commanders of the fortresses, using devices that were supposed to “swap” their personalities—what the Interstellar Patrol in Christopher Anvil’s novel Warlord’s World calls an “inside job”. (We don’t know why, either.) But just as in that novel, something went (from their perspective) very wrong: the original commanders never “showed up” there, the “replacements” they intended to insert stayed there, something prevented the machines from even attempting another insertion, and you (the players) showed up in the commanders’ bodies.
So that’s the situation. You find yourself the commander of a fortress (conveniently designed and situated to your specification, as it happens …), in a perhaps somewhat confusing situation. Fortunately, the world moves slowly yet, and the “new” commanders of the other fortresses are in the same state. But unfortunately, the ones who got you in this position know that their original plans have failed, and they may have contingency plans they’ll use next. And with the intrusion of outsiders, not all the fortress commanders are now on the same side …