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Thread: Gemini Ascendant Star System Map [WIP]

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  1. #1
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    Wip Gemini Ascendant Star System Map [WIP]

    Hi all. I run a space opera game that originally was based on the Star Frontiers setting. After some time, I decided that what I really wanted was my own campaign setting. So I took some time to whip up this map around 4-5 months ago. Since then, it has been sitting in an unfinished state.

    Today, I added the trade routes. I like them, but maybe somebody has an idea on how they could be better.

    What I really need is an idea on how to do a legend. There isn't a lot of empty space to plug one into. And I have no idea what to actually put in the legend. Any suggestions would be welcome. Thanks in advance.

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    I think you'll need to start by defining the FTL travel you use in this campaign. You say that the lines are trade routes, so that means that they do not necessarily indicate unidirectional FTL travel routes. So if you use omnidirectional FTL then these probably aren't very good trade routes because trade routes in space where there is no impedance to travel other than sheer time and distance trade routes will end up being much more like the "triangle route" established in the Atlantic in the 17th to 19th centuries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_trade) where goods that are cheap in one place are traded to a place where they are more costly but that location in turn has a trade good that is valuable somewhere else which in turn has a trade good that is valuable in the original location. Though it does not necessarily need to be only three ports, it could be two or far more than three. So in that case you'd want to indicate what goods are flowing in what directions. Also for example if FTL is omnidirectional ports like Tassah and Regea might be directly connected for some routes.

    However if FTL is unidirectional (or more accurately N-directional) where each star system is connected via FTL only to a specific set of other stars (like Wing Commander or Starfire) then these trade routes might be better, but you probably need more connections and should still indicate the circular/triangular routes and what goods flow in what direction.

    Or at least that's how I'd do it.

    As for what you might need in the legend:
    Scale if Omnidirectional or "Jump Distance" if N-Directional.
    Trade route goods.
    Political affiliations.
    “Maps encourage boldness. They're like cryptic love letters. They make anything seem possible.”
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    Thanks for responding. Let me see if I can come up with some answers for you.

    There are four (technically three, with one being an outgrowth of another) FTL modes. Just as a note, this is mostly a space opera type campaign with less emphasis on technological or scientific accuracy and more focus on action and story development.

    Void Drives ( 1 ly/day )
    The oldest and longest used one is known as Void travel. The Void (another name for Hyperspace) was the staple of travel for over 300 years. While technically Void travel could take you anywhere, it was restricted by policy to a series of buoys assigned to specific routes (easy to get lost in the Void). There were also gates that allowed ships without Void drives to enter and exit the Void at certain points. Recent campaign events have rendered the Void too unstable to provide for safe travel, necessitating the implementation of new and untested technologies. The trade routes, as drawn, represent the original gateway system.

    ION Drives (1 ly/ 2 weeks )
    Not to be confused with ion drives, which are very much slower, ION drives were developed after studying an advanced alien starship engine design. They work on the warp theory and are technically omnidirectional. The campaign uses a Deus Ex Machina fuel source which is both heavy and rare, so any ship diverging from the trade routes needs to have a lot of cargo space to carry both supplies and fuel.

    Fold Drives (up to 10 ly/instantly - but must be at least 1 ly from a star)
    A more recent invention, the technology for these types of drives is in its infancy. Essentially the vessel using this type of drive must travel about a ly away from whatever star it is currently near. More for brigher, larger stars and less for smaller, dimmer stars. Again, technically omnidirectional but the drives themselves are much more prone to mechanical failure than the other drives. For sheer safety, the ships that use these drives stay near the route and actually jump far less than the maximum jump available. These drives are accompanied by a form of fast Slower than Light travel that allow for relativistic speeds without actually exceeding the speed of light. This is actually probably the slowest form of travel as it takes about a year and a half to get to the jump point

    Warp Drive ( 3 ly/day )
    Found in only two ships known to the player characters and one of them is a heap of wreckage. This technology is from a technologically advanced alien species. Study of the warp drives in one of the ships led to the development of the ION drive system. The single fastest and most stable form of travel in the setting - which is now available in a single ship. Truly the only practical omnidirectional travel system as it uses Zero Point Energy and the ship comes with a matter conversion (replicator) device. Well, the scrap heap had the replicator. The other ship did not have that particular luxury so it is limited to whatever it can store in its cargo hold. In that regard, it must have some place to restock essential supplies.

    More uses for the routes
    Since the Void is useless now and Fold drives can be very impractical, the new workhorse drive is the ION drive. Still, it is a slow method of travel and supplies don't last forever. To help counter this issue, way stations with extra supplies are being deployed along the old routes. This allows for smaller ships to have a place to stop and resupply. It also creates home bases for "short range" patrols.

    About the Legend
    What I really want to do is find a place for the legend now. I was thinking lower left corner, with the risk of blocking out some of the content. Another place would be the upper middle, but there are places there too, that will likely be blocked out. Any suggestions on where to put the legend?

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    Update: Added a few more trade lanes. Changed the transparency level to make the trade lanes a little more pronounced.

    Next up: Working on the Legend.

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    Updates:
    - More playing with the trade lanes. Thinking about doing them with a thinner line. Currently using the Felt Tip brush at 50% scale. May reduce to 35%.
    - Added a legend in the lower left. Not really enthusiastic about it. Starting to wonder if I really even need a legend. Considering a label for each political territory instead.

    Anyway, here is the latest WIP.

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    With no offense intended I have to disagree with some of what your saying. Baring any crazy moving to a new demision for FTL then there would still need to be "routes" unlike in the ocean, you have to worry about large rocks, planets, and other drifting matter that would rip your ship to pieces if you were going at any rate of speed to get anywhere in the galaxy fast enough.

    I feel that advanced computer systems and scanning systems would need to be in place to adjust accordingly based on what could be infront of you, also a central map system your ship would link up to, to help calculate a good trejectory would be also needed.

    Just my FYI here, im a scifi techy nut dude... so yeah...



    Quote Originally Posted by wormspeaker View Post
    I think you'll need to start by defining the FTL travel you use in this campaign. You say that the lines are trade routes, so that means that they do not necessarily indicate unidirectional FTL travel routes. So if you use omnidirectional FTL then these probably aren't very good trade routes because trade routes in space where there is no impedance to travel other than sheer time and distance trade routes will end up being much more like the "triangle route" established in the Atlantic in the 17th to 19th centuries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_trade) where goods that are cheap in one place are traded to a place where they are more costly but that location in turn has a trade good that is valuable somewhere else which in turn has a trade good that is valuable in the original location. Though it does not necessarily need to be only three ports, it could be two or far more than three. So in that case you'd want to indicate what goods are flowing in what directions. Also for example if FTL is omnidirectional ports like Tassah and Regea might be directly connected for some routes.

    However if FTL is unidirectional (or more accurately N-directional) where each star system is connected via FTL only to a specific set of other stars (like Wing Commander or Starfire) then these trade routes might be better, but you probably need more connections and should still indicate the circular/triangular routes and what goods flow in what direction.

    Or at least that's how I'd do it.

    As for what you might need in the legend:
    Scale if Omnidirectional or "Jump Distance" if N-Directional.
    Trade route goods.
    Political affiliations.

  7. #7
    Guild Artisan Greason Wolfe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixer View Post
    With no offense intended I have to disagree with some of what your saying. Baring any crazy moving to a new demision for FTL then there would still need to be "routes" unlike in the ocean, you have to worry about large rocks, planets, and other drifting matter that would rip your ship to pieces if you were going at any rate of speed to get anywhere in the galaxy fast enough.

    I feel that advanced computer systems and scanning systems would need to be in place to adjust accordingly based on what could be infront of you, also a central map system your ship would link up to, to help calculate a good trejectory would be also needed.

    Just my FYI here, im a scifi techy nut dude... so yeah...
    Ah, but in the ocean you do have to worry about "drifting matter," though perhaps not to the same extent that you would in space. Just look at the Titanic. More to the point, however, and possibly still applicable in relation to FTL would be tides and channels. Bringing something similar into an FTL environment might be just the thing to give it a unique flavor. In terms of FTL, however, I would think that tides and channels might be replaced with solar winds/flares and gravity wells. Along with all that drifting matter, of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greason Wolfe View Post
    In terms of FTL, however, I would think that tides and channels might be replaced with solar winds/flares and gravity wells.
    For my Logres Cluster world I invented the idea of "causal channels." The basic idea is that the universe simply will not allow temporal loops. Thus, while FTL travel is possible, you can get some really strange effects to be sure that cause & effect always comes out properly.

    The effect of this is to create routes where travel is most effective. Venturing off mapped routes can be highly effective, but can also slow you down.
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    Generally, when it comes to science fiction you want to limit yourself to just one thing that the reader needs to suspend disbelief over. Having three different ways to travel FTL is generally two too many. Of course it's your setting so there's no reason you can't have them, but it's just something to think about.

    As for the map itself the font for the star names are a little hard to read, particularly since for the most part the names are made up, it hampers sight recognition of the words. The reader must sound out the names and that's hard to do since the font blends the letters together a little too much. It's not a major problem, it just means that it takes longer to read them, but increasing the separation between the letters might help. Otherwise the map looks just fine.
    “Maps encourage boldness. They're like cryptic love letters. They make anything seem possible.”
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  10. #10
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    As to the three different FTL methods, the setting has been used to role-play in for 3+ years and these have all been established. Luckily, the target audience is rather small, being anywhere from the 5 core players to as many as 7 total players. For purposes of a public map, you could easily just pick one method and call it good.

    As to the font, yeah, I agree with you. It was the only font I had at the time that was close to being appropriate. I have been wanting to redo those, but dreading doing it at the same time. I suppose it should be done before I call it a day. Thanks for the tip.

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