View Full Version : WIP A Distant Galaxy

09-12-2009, 07:03 AM
This is my new worldbuilding project I'm currently working on. For a change it's going to be a science fiction setting taking place in a distant galaxy, heavily influenced by Mass Effect. I would like to hear suggestions on what should be improved or if you have any other ideas to make this map better or unique. The only thing I can think of is that I'm going to change the perspective when everything is done with it so it will have more depth. I used this tutorial http://blog.hexagonstar.com/galaxy-tutorial/ to create the galaxy with some minor tweaks here and there so that I could accomplish it with GIMP instead of Photoshop!

If someone also know any Website that have guides on "how to create a science fiction world" I would be very glad if you could post them here :)

Steel General
09-12-2009, 08:58 AM
Looks good so far.

09-13-2009, 02:57 AM
Something about that stylised galaxy says 'Van Gogh' to me. I like it.

If someone also know any Website that have guides on "how to create a science fiction world" I would be very glad if you could post them here :)

Well, I can probably help, but it depends what sort of detail you want and what your main focus or intent is.

Are you more interested in geology, meteorology, geography, technology, history, demographics, economics, politics, botany, zoology...?

If I know what your goal is, I can maybe point you in the right direction. :)

09-13-2009, 08:08 AM
Well, anything would be nice, but mostly i need links about technology, goverment and how to create "believable aliens". Different ways of traveling the galaxy would be nice to!

09-13-2009, 09:15 AM
Science fiction worldbuilding depends heavily on how "hard" you want the sci-fi ... as in how plausible you want the science. If you want it really plausible, the best way to do it is to look at actual science and take some intuitive (and fictional) leaps.

If you have a library nearby or can spare the cash to buy it, Orson Scott Card wrote an invaluable book (http://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Science-Fiction-Fantasy/dp/158297103X) about how to handle all of the things you're talking about. If not, here are a couple links to get you started (these are all places I've gotten good stuff for the sci-fi I'm researching). A google search on "science fiction worldbuilding" should yield some good results too.

Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions (http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions/) (fantasy and sci-fi intermix alot, so still useful)
Interstellar Travel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_travel) on Wikipedia (and pretty much everything under See Also)
Universe Today (http://www.universetoday.com/) is a great site for the actual science of space as it stands now
Space Cynic (http://spacecynic.wordpress.com/) will give you an idea of what the problems with different space ideas are, so that you can deal with those problems in your world.

09-13-2009, 10:56 AM
Thanks for the reply! I think I'm going for a more space opera-ish feeling, something along the lines of Mass Effect and Halo (not sure of Halo's genre). I've mostly been playing around with fantasy ideas and concept, so I'm new to SF. If I would focus on a Hard science fiction setting it will just turn out bad... really bad. Accuracy and mathematics are not my strong side :(

Preferably I want to focus on how it would be if humans, out of pure desperation and near extinction, invades another galaxy. What could possibly be the outcome and the consequences of the humans actions?
I also want to focus, as in my previous post, on governments and oraganizations, aliens and their culture and similiar stuff like that :) Hopefully it will turn out good!

09-14-2009, 12:51 AM
If you are willing to spend a bit of money, GURPS Space (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/space/) is a quite impressive collection of material: Interstellar societies and technology, Placing worlds within a galaxy, designing worlds and star systems, and designing alien life. You don't need the rest of GURPS to use it.

09-14-2009, 06:45 AM
LOL! Good call, Gidde. Yes, Hardness is the first thing to look at. As you can see from my list above, I tend to go for the harder end, so I might not be so much help after all, but just a few pointers to get you figuring where you want to go:

If you're going for the softer sci-fi, technology can be almost anything you want - and if you're going for an intergalactic campaign it'll be well off my scale. Galaxies are several million light years apart (compared with several light years for interstellar distances) so if you want to get there in less than a year, you have to be travelling at several million times light speed. What tech would accomplish that is anyone's guess - and by the time humans have achived that level, they might not even be recognisably human... But I'm talking hard sci and logic again. :)

Human governments run the gamut from a single ruler to a council and from participative democracy to totalitarian regimes - pretty much anything goes there.

Aliens will all have the same ecological problems that we're familiar with - the need to respire, to feed, to procreate and to manipulate their environment. You can go for 'rubber suit' aliens or more exotic types, but the less human they are, the more difficult it becomes to explain their motives - even the motive for conflict. The thing that really makes aliens alien is the way they think.

A human invasion of another galaxy (or even a starsystem) would be a huge undertaking that would require huge resources and a very long period of time. It would have the same difficulties, risks and consequences as any other all-out war - both sides risk genocide and extinction.

Hope that helps. :)

09-14-2009, 08:14 AM
Yeah, I tend to go for the harder end too, lol. I want to give readers the same feeling I got when I read Red Mars for the first time: "Wow, we could be doing this! Why aren't we doing this NOW?"

Another good resource is the History channel's The Universe; they have a few episodes (that get pretty regularly rerun) about what ET/other planets might look like and why. Good for inspiration.

09-16-2009, 05:50 PM
Thanks for all of the advices! I got GURPS Space and I'm currently reading it. All I can say is that this book is a must buy for a SF world builder :) it has a lot of information, stays interesting and explains everything in a nice way, giving newbieís like me a chance to understand basic SF terms and concepts. Very nice!

While Iím reading the book Iíve come up with a concept of the travelling system in the galaxy. Iíve had this vision of a former alien species that only focused on developing their space travelling technology for many many hundreds of years, maybe thousands. They came up with so called hyper stations, or routers, to make space travel faster, secure and simpler.

The routers functions as a sort of catapult that launch ships in high speed into hyperspace, emerging out by another router. Each router has its own close knitted network; one router leads to another one, which then leads to the next one (and back to the previous router).
As the ancient alien species expanded their territory they placed out these routers at strategically and useful coordinates.

Before using a router it must be activated. After the alien species ďmysteriouslyĒ disappeared, one after one of the routers deactivated because of the lack of maintenance.
To relocate and activate the routs, the government funds so called router expeditions so that new territories may be explored, make new travel routs/highways in the galaxy and open up unexplored space. Router expeditions usually takes between months or years as the expedition ship needs to travel the distances between one relay to the other one in ďstandard ship travel timeĒ instead of hyper speed. The time is approximately ten double the hyper jump time, less or more.

All currently found routers are heavily controlled by its founders. To make a hyper travel by using a router you often need to have a certain certificate or pay a fee.
Space stations are often located close to the router so that the government/organization can have some control over the router. They also schedules the ďtravelling schemeĒ (they donít want any coalitions on the highway) and maintains the routerís condition. The space station also protects the router from invaders who wants to take control over it, as the highways are very important for trade, economics, politics and war.

So this is my first brainstorming ideas on the travelling system. I hope it isn't to confusing... english isn't my native language, and neither is SF my specialization :roll:. There are still a lot of topics left to cover, like what travel speed does the ship have in hyperspace, what happens if a router is broken while ships are travelling the highway, can ships be detected when travelling the hyperspace and so on. If you have any opinions or advices (or if you think itís to unoriginal) I would be happy to hear any suggestions! :)

Other brainstorming ideas involves how humans came to the galaxy and why and so on. Itís still too early to put it up here.

Iíve also drawn some modifications on the map. The next step would be to place out the routers if the idea is good enough to be used! I also attached a pic with the galaxy without anything layered over it.

09-17-2009, 05:19 AM
This sounds like a common theme in SF called 'gate' technology. (See the TV series Stargate, for example). It's probably the best system for travel over galactic distances. Generally in SF, gates (and perhaps routers) work via wormholes and travel between them is effectively instantaneous. This cuts out any worries about speed and broken connections. If the idea works for you, go for it.
Neat backstory. :)

09-17-2009, 12:51 PM
Hey, just stumbled in here. Nice to see somebody used my galaxy tute for the same purpose that I had in mind. I'm designing a SF RPG and needed a galaxy so that's why I came up with that tutorial eventually.

Here's the first version of the galactic map. Many of the worlds shown are already decided but this map is now out of date since I want to re-position worlds and sectors to conform with the storyline and probably give it a whole new look.

This is actually quite a lot influenced by the Star Wars galaxy but I want to distance myself from that again so it really reflects my own IP.

There's also a sector map which is a WiP of a sector map that is used to show several of the sectors on the galactic map in more detail. The navigation system will zoom in from the galactic map down to any single planet step-by-step: galaxy map -> sector map -> star system -> planet.
I know it sounds as if I'm just copying Mass Effect here but I actually had the idea for this already about 10 years ago.

Either way I hope this will give a bit of inspiration to others.

09-17-2009, 02:13 PM
Beautiful maps! Your tutorial is the best I've ever stumbled across in my opinion. It's also the only "galaxy" tutorial that creates realistic galaxy maps that I’ve ever seen. It gave me huge inspiration to make this SF setting. What a coincidence that we had the same thing in mind with the mapping part (as in a previous post I'm also going to have inspiration from Mass Effect). I wish I had Photoshop so that I could accomplish the same result as your maps/tutorial :)

09-17-2009, 02:20 PM
icosahedron; Yes, something like that. I've watched several episodes of Stargate, but I want it o take some time to travel on the "highways", a day or more (and not million of years without routers :roll:).

09-18-2009, 10:39 AM
That's a pretty sweet map there Lizardman.

11-02-2009, 07:24 PM
icosahedron; Yes, something like that. I've watched several episodes of Stargate, but I want it o take some time to travel on the "highways", a day or more (and not million of years without routers :roll:).

well one thing that you could do, if your not to realistic, is faster than light speed ships. then it would take time to travel this galaxy but not much.

11-08-2009, 04:19 AM
That's a good one, but how will they acquire light speed? I would like it to be both a little realistic (since when did lightspeed traveling become realistic?) but also mysterious, unknown. Alien perhaps?

I don't know a lot about these things, and this project goes forward very slow, as I have a lot to do in school for the moment. I also run another fantasy project alongside this, and I'm currently working on that one! I'll soon return to this one :)

11-08-2009, 09:19 AM
Without faster than light travel everything gets too long. Since our closest star (bar sun) is 4ly then its all a non starter when looking at galactic ranges. This is also true for communications as well. If going for a gate model then you need a gate next to everywhere you want to go. I think reality has to be thrown out.

11-13-2009, 01:00 PM
Well, it depends on what kind of story you want it to be Redrobes. Larry Niven has written a number of stories where humans explore space with light speed or slower ships. Of course you don't end up with a human empire spreading across the stars in that case, rather each star is a lonely island. The person on the ship traveling at relativistic speeds experiences a much shorter time-frame from origination to destination than the outside universe, but time continues unabated beyond the hull of the ship. For example in _A World Out of Time_ Niven has his protagonist fly to the center of the galaxy and back to earth. Of course three million years had passed by the time he got back. Not conducive to having empires, but humans can indeed spread throughout the galaxy.

12-05-2009, 12:52 PM
Hi! Sorry for the thread necromany.

I have some notes on making an SF universe on my website:

I manage to make a quick galactic map using a NASA image and a program called Blender (see attachment).

I made a tedious complicated map by writing a computer program to digest star catalogs and plot astronomical items.

12-14-2009, 09:50 PM
Score 1 for GURPS Space. That book has had me dreaming of creating galaxies for over a decade. The only thing is due to my time constraints I always stuck with fantasy because it was much smaller scale. If you think as a GM you spend a lot of time doing things your players never find out about then try creating galaxies with planets they will probably never visit, although they could, LOL.

Awesome stuff here, one day I may try to get this between my teeth but for now I'll stick to the smaller stuff :)