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Work in progress

April 10, 2007

It is a time of rebirth.

As a player, your character will be traveling in a region of space—the Thousand Suns—that remains partially un-explored and in the midst of recovery after the centuries-long anarchy of the Age of Warring States. It is Year 300 of the New Calendar and dynamism has returned to the galaxy. Colonists settle new worlds, free traders hawk their wares, and naval vessels patrol the jumplines. On hundreds of planets across the Old Federation, lights are coming on again and the “decivilization” of the previous era is steadily being reversed.

It is a time of upheaval.

Yet darkness remains.

Not every world welcomes the return of stable interstellar government. This change threatens the reigns of despots and tyrants who would rather rule over benighted backwaters than embrace the dawn of a new age. Rival interstellar governments, both human and alien, likewise view current events with wary eyes, unsure of how to proceed and ready to act in their own best interests whatever the outcome. The return of commerce plays into the designs of greedy megacorporations, creating a fertile environment for pirates and raiders. This is no more apparent than in those regions where the Navy’s reach exceeds its grasp. Mercenaries ply their violent trades, employed by previously isolated planets that seek advantage over their neighbors. Ancient rivalries have once again flared up and those looking to make their fortunes sell their skills to the highest bidder.

It is a time of adventure.

Thousand Suns characters hail from hundreds of settled planets. These planets are called home by numerous species, whether alien, human, or genetically engineered clade. Likewise, representatives of these species come from all walks of life, from highly trained naval officers to determined explorers to wily merchants to almost any other vocation you can imagine. As you travel the Thousand Suns, you might explore alien ruins, engage in dogfights with enemy fighters, re-contact a lost colony world, fly amidst the spires of the world-city of Meridian, or engage in speculative trade. If you’ve seen it in a science fiction movie or TV show or read about it in a book, there’s a good chance you can do it among the Thousand Suns. Somewhere, among the Thousand Suns, you will find what you desire.

As a Game Master, you have the hardest task, but the most rewarding. You create the adventures and the conflicts that challenge your players. You have the tools that allow you to create adventures in the style of the classic space operas of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. but viewed through 21st century eyes. What this means is that you can draw upon the stories and themes of the past and join them to contemporary science fictional speculations to produce adventures that appeal to fans of both.

Thousand Suns
is not about recreating the past space opera classics. It is about using them as inspiration to create science fiction epics with a modern perspective. Science fiction, it’s been said, is really about the present, not the future. Consequently, a lot of older science fiction—including works that inspired Thousand Suns—feels somewhat dated because the concerns of the time when they were written don’t always translate well across the decades. Yet, older science fiction often possessed a wide-eyed sense of wonder and an abandonment to infinite possibilities that’s sometimes lacking in the grungy, dystopic, post-cyberpunk SF of the present day. Your job as a GM is to marry the best of the past to the best of the present to create exciting space opera adventures among the Thousand Suns.

Intimidated? Don’t be. This is not as arduous a task as it might appear.

Space opera—whether classic or contemporary—is a vast genre, both in terms of its literal scope and its diversity. Space opera takes place over a large canvas, with hundreds, even thousands, of worlds as potential sites for adventures. Having such a large canvas, allows it encompass almost any kind of science fiction story, big or small. This makes it even easier to create whatever adventures appeal to you and your players. The real trick is to give them all that little space operatic “spark,” that connection to the grand themes of the genre, most importantly humanity’s destiny among the stars.

The rules of Thousand Suns were written with the grand themes of space opera in mind. They are flexible, easy to understand, and modular. This gives you a toolbox as the Game Master. You can use this toolbox to add, subtract or emphasize whatever elements you wish without having to worry about its effects on other parts of the game. These rules do not model the hard science realism found in some science fiction. Instead, these rules support the “wow” moments found in the genre.

As GM, it is your responsibility to create a world where the human race has left behind cradle of Earth and ventured into the Great Unknown to find its place in the galaxy. The rules are intended to make this responsibility as simple—and fun!—as possible, though, because GMing should be as enjoyable an experience as playing.

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