Update Time!

So, I’ve been doing a little graphical update on the game, and I can finally say that I’m satisfied with the look.

Things that I’ve been busy updating:

Rulebook visual changes:

Datalinks:

Strategic Action Cards:

Tokens:

Finished all of the upgrade pics.

and finally, the Map Tiles have been updated.

Now the game is ready for some editing!  Can’t wait!

 

And that leaves me with the last three things left to do – Designs for the two boxes, and individual pack art.  Exciting!

 

So stay tuned.

Chapter 1: The Nightmare Begins

Earth, The Grand Dreamers: Year 2164

Civilizations rise and fall.
Abundance, greed, destruction; a long twisting spiral back through history and time.
This was so when humans lived in tribes, this was so when humans began conquering land, and this did not change centuries later when humans began exploring space.
Only now the great spiral threatened to come to an end, the human race would not survive this next plummet into self annihilation.

Famine, disease and war ripped through the world, as a handful of people overlooked mankind’s tribulation, towering over a suffering planet with eyes closed to the imminent extinction of the human race.

In this age of decadence and depravity, The Grand Dreamers announced themselves to the world.

The Grand Dreamers were figures of immense power. Their skin, timeless, shimmered like dancing light; their voices, preternatural, echoed as if they spoke from a deep chasm in the distance, though they stood not two feet away. Their eyes, otherworldly, were portals to eternity, they promised a truth out of reach, an understanding that could not be grasped by the human mind. To be in their presence was to feel small, foolish, and scared, like a lost child. It was difficult to fathom that these beings so in-tune with the fabric of space, matter and time were once merely human. Human, yet now evolved, transformed through ascension.

As awe inspiring as the Grand Dreamers were, they were not embraced by all. Some doubted that they were human, some questioned their motives, and most feared their power. The Grand Dreamers patiently smiled as they were berated with questions; their origins and their ascension remained a mystery.

The Grand Dreamers, no longer able to stand witness to human obliteration, showed themselves to the world with the intention to teach, to help, to reason with the few that held power over so many. This ended in failure, and they could not afford to be patient any longer. Humanity had to evolve now, or suffer extinction.

The Grand Dreamers shifted their bodies into the collective unconscious; the psychic mesh that bound all humans together. The chatter, the cries, the pain and joy, all facets of the human condition were like a symphony of whispers on this psychic plane.

They took hold of the tendrils that connected mankind and shot a radiant energy pulse through all the filaments. As The Grand Dreamers’ life force infused the mesh, the strands all at once fractured and grew in number, the whispers became stronger, louder.

In that instant every person on the planet fell to the ground, clutching their burning chests, weeping as their minds and souls were infiltrated by every human in existence. This was the beginning of True-empathy. The Grand Dreamers had pulled mankind out of chaos and forced them onto the path of ascension.

This pulse of true-empathy tore down corrupt governments, fed the starving, and healed the sick. Showing kindness to the needy was no longer just a philosophical idea, but an overwhelming urge, as important to sustain life as drinking or breathing.
Over the span of 1 year, humans had managed to eradicate poverty, corruption, crime, and to a large part disease. They had all but achieved a Utopia on earth. Instead of pillaging the earth like parasites, the humans began to commune with it, to respect it, and to respect all life that it supported. Though proud of humanity’s progress, it was clear to the Grand Dreamers that ascension was still just out of reach. They could not sever the psychic bonds in the mesh without risk of humanity falling into chaos once more and they could not sustain the bonds themselves long enough for humanity to reach ascension naturally. They had to accelerate the ascension process.

The Grand Dreamers through ethereal manipulation, forged The Elysiun Crystal. Much like the way diamonds can focus light rays into a powerful laser beam, the Elysiun Crystal had the power to focus ethereal energy, the binding and creating force of reality.

From all over the world, The Grand Dreamers assembled the greatest thinkers, scientists, and engineers. Together they developed technologies that harnessed ether from the Elysiun Crystal to manipulate and transform the bonds between matter and energy. These technologies culminated in the construction of the vessel of providence, Cortex Zero; the ascension device.

Elysiun Beings

The Grand Dreamers placed the Elysiun Crystal inside the focal-duct and called for the volunteers to enter the machine.

All stood by and watched as the eager, yet nervous men and women entered Cortex Zero. The heavy steel door slid shut with a boom and a hiss as the vacuum seal fixed the door in place. The dial was turned and the generator purred. It fed light and heat through to the focal-duct where the Elysiun Crystal began to vibrate and sing.
The resonation pitched higher and higher as the crystal extracted and absorbed the ether from the heat and light. The room was filled with shards of colour as the extracted light ran through the blue crystal, turning it to a deep red. The symphony of light became brighter and brighter as the now bright red crystal’s vibration reached its zenith, filled to capacity with ether. With a blinding flash and a shock-wave the crystal released an ethereal beam into the chamber where the volunteers stood silent, afraid, in the dark.

The vacuum seal released and the door slowly slid open. The large chamber where the volunteers stood was now radiating a low crimson light and a foggy mist obscured the view of the inner chamber. Slowly as the room cooled, the mist curled and spilled out of the chamber; one by one the volunteers silently climbed out.

The onlookers smiling faces slowly twisted, into gaping circles as hands rose to stifle gasps. Eyes darted about the room, fear pulled them towards the exits. All eyes turned to the Grand Dreamers, who didn’t move, didn’t look away. They took in the sight of the Elysiun Beings, humanity’s ascended children, and solemnly whispered one word; Abomination.

Their skin and hair were pale shimmering white, and like a flickering light they undulated between translucence and solidity. It was as if they were trapped shifting between planes; unable to go forward, and unable to go back. As they shifted into translucence their organs and bones exposed through crystalline flesh.

This ghostly sight was terrifying, but more over it was their eyes that made one tremble. They were blackest black, luminous pools of torment, with an alarming white pin center. To look on them was to feel despair, and horror.

The volunteers who had entered the machine had only ascended part of the way. Their bodies shifted into the next plain, but their souls, anchored to this solid one, were torn, shredded by the machine.

The Grand Dreamers sequestered the Elysiun Beings while they tried with little success to heal their damaged souls. Cut off from the psychic-mesh, their mutilated souls could not feel the comfort of human connection. This caused them inconsolable suffering. Only euphoria producing sedatives were able to keep them calm and under control. The Grand Dreamers knew that a being so filled with pain and suffering yet armed with the powers of ascension was capable of immense evil. If they could not be controlled, they had to be destroyed.

Cataclysm

Cortex Zero was shut down, but the Grand Dreamers did not give up hope. They saw that their mistake was in underestimating the soul’s attachment to the physical plane.
Five children whose souls seemed to have the highest potential for natural ascension were chosen for training. These children spent the next twenty years meditating, chanting, learning physics and philosophy, honing their ability to find calm in extreme environments from ice to desert, until The Grand Dreamers were ready to try once more.

Sabera, the most advanced of the 5 disciples, volunteered to be the first to enter Cortex Zero.
She wore a ceremonial robe of white silk, blue markings painted on her face and arms as The Grand Dreamers anointed her.
The machine purred to life and once again the Elysiun Crystal sang as it filled with ether. The Dreamers held hands and chanted. They projected themselves into the psychic plane, supporting Sabera’s soul, and protecting it with their prodigious power.

The Elysiun Crystal released its powerful beam. The Dreamers felt Sabera’s soul begin to pull and stretch and then with their guiding force, it let go, intact, and began to shift into ascension.
The room began filling with ether, the light was blinding and it wasn’t coming from the spent Elysiun Crystal. The room began to tremble. The ethereal energy was growing and building, emanating from Sabera herself!
With explosive force, the chamber holding Sabera peeled apart like tissue paper as she grew and transformed, large white wings grew out from between her shoulders and unfurled wide. With one mighty beat, she shot out of the earth, tearing a hole through to the sky.
No amount of meditation could prepare the human mind for the devastation of being torn apart into the fabric of the universe itself. Sabera’s screams shot out into the collective unconscious and humanity wailed with her into madness.

Cataclysm followed.

The Grand Dreamers lived on the 4th dimension of ascension. They could do little but watch as Sabera’s ascension ripped through the dimensional layers of existence, severing her matter-bonds, and propelling her well passed the 4th into the 8th dimension. She became mind-manifest itself; Cortex Zero had given birth to a God.

The Dreamers watched on the psychic plain as a transformative shock-wave spread throughout the universe. Sabera consumed, absorbed and created reality. Black-holes erupted in galaxies yet unnamed, whole star-systems ceased to exist and then others formed out of nothing. Sabera’s thoughts and fears were made manifest. The earth shook and quaked, the planet’s core churned and bubbled cracking long fissures through the mantel, bleeding molten rock.

With little choice, the Dreamers unleashed the abominations, the Elysiun Beings, and together they used all of their power to contain Sabera, to cut-off her source of ether and to bind her energy into the earth. The Grand Dreamers broke their psychic link with humanity with one final cry into the collective: “Run!”

Exodus

The survivors evacuated the earth, loading onto a large convoy of ships embarking on their journey for a new home. With them they collected all their history, science, bio-samples, as well as any technology they could. Anything that couldn’t be carried including technology and bio-matter was mapped and added to a vast database to be recreated later once they were safe.

The Dreamers and the Elysiun Beings remained on Earth, taxed with the mission of lulling Sabera into a deep sleep, and giving humanity a chance to escape.

The survivors watched with mournful sadness as their broken home grew smaller into the distance. Their new home of metal and glass felt all the colder, with the realization that they never again would feel grass, or breathe ocean air; their home was lost to them forever.

After travelling together for several years, nearing the Andromeda Galaxy, with no habitable planet in sight, power struggles quickly developed throughout the convoy; two leaders emerged.

Tephor Fynix, a retired General, wanted military rule over the convoy, he and his followers felt it was the only way to maintain order, prevent a population explosion, and to prevent hording and theft of resources, which was a problem since food riots were becoming an almost monthly event.

Jemma Sol, a botanist and geneticist, once head of one of the most prestigious teaching hospitals in Europe, rose to oppose Fynix. She and her followers were outraged over his proposed birth cap, and forced population control. They felt it was more important to develop technologies for sustaining life; to build up the convoy, and supplies, not to ration food, and to limit procreation.
Reaching no consensus on their future, they partitioned their ships, supplies, and technologies and then broke off into three groups. The third, knowing only peace, decided that neither ideology was correct.

Those following Tephor Fynix embarked on an indefinite journey towards a new home in the Andromeda Galaxy, under military rule.

Those following Jemma Sol wanted her vision for humanity. Self sustaining, living in the present, not putting life on hold while waiting for a perfect planet that may never come. They turned their ships around and headed back towards the Milky Way, towards Earth.

The remaining ships, around 10% of the convoy, joined a collective, they wanted no part of military rule, and thought Sol’s hope for prosperity in space was too idealistic, too risky. They joined together to find any planet that could sustain human life, it didn’t have to be like earth, they simply needed their space travel to end.

The three convoys remained in contact at first but eventually lost all connection with each other as communication became impossible over the vast time and space that separated them. In truth, some of the convoys chose to sever communications even when they were still in range.

These three groups were destined to parent three human civilizations, they were bound by history and by fate, for deep in the recesses of their databases each group carried with them all the specifications for re-constructing Cortex Zero.

3000 years later: Present day

On Arc Alpha, a lush green planet teaming with life, in the Andromeda Galaxy, and home-world of the Arc Dominion, alarms sounded. The confused inhabitants scattered into the streets trying to understand what was happening.
In the palace, Emperor Craesius III stood calmly stroking the head of his chimera, Naphal.
The wolf-leopard growled with irritation as nervous attendants and advisors scurried about delivering information as fast as they could.
Craesius approached a view-panel ready with a direct satellite feed from Lunna, the planet’s smaller black moon. The view port distinctly displayed a cluster of ships in the distance. One of the larger ships was heading for the planet.

All attempts at communication had been fruitless thus far and the unknown ship was travelling at a startling speed, almost as fast as a Sccai-Qraft, only 20 times the size. Who were these beings, and what did they want?

The alien ship was clearer in the view port now. It was black with strange red markings along the sides. It was wild looking, the red markings looked like blood leaking from fresh wounds, and its metal panels looked grafted on by a trauma surgeon. As the massive ship approached orbit it suddenly stopped and waited.

The Arc Knight’s Defensive Armada remained in formation above the planet requesting orders, each sending out communications towards the ship by every method they possessed; they sent radio signals, they flashed lights in Morse-code, they sent flares out wide of the ship; they tried everything to open a line of communication with the immense beast hovering just out of reach, like a wild dog in the shadows, sizing up its prey.

Craesius, the greatest emperor of the known universe, suddenly felt powerless in the face of this threat.
They had never encountered beings with technology such as this in all of their explorations, and as such had never developed planet wide defence protocols. If it had weapons, this ship could destroy them from space with little opposition.
The screen cracked as he gripped the view-panel with his strong hands, gritting his teeth through an anger clenched jaw, growling in frustration. Naphal hissed and whined as if sensing his master’s alarm and hid under the desk.

The alien ship suddenly moved, it spun ninety-degrees in the heavens and shot for Arc Beta, the planet’s larger terraformed moon, and home to just under one billion citizens.

Craesius grabbed the relay, almost crushing it in his hand as he pressed the call button, ordering the Knights to scramble for the moon, but they were too late. The alien ship had path-fold tech on board; it was hovering above the moon before the Knights could even change formation.

Craesius screamed for a relay-connection to the moon, as the alien ship opened a massive iris at the bottom of its hull. The audio from the moon was static rich, and Craesius repeated his evacuation order three times before the relay went quiet.

The dark demonoid ship unleashed it’s devastating light, a bright beam glowed and grew from the open iris like a river of white lava shooting out and tearing into the moon’s surface. The stream turned from white to crimson to red as it seemed to suck the very life blood from the moon below.

Craesius listened to the hum of the empty relay signal, no static, just a small electronic hum, like the sound of empty space; the nightmare of 200 million people dead.
By the time the Arc Knights reached the moon, cannons hot with impotent fire, the alien ship had closed its iris and created another path-fold, rejoining the ship cluster in the distance.
Craesius took a deep breath as he watched the ships turn and go. He ignored the pleas for orders from the Knights on the open relay. He ignored the cries of his servants as they collapsed in despair over the loss of life, family and friends.
Craesius called Naphal out from under the desk, and gently stroked his head as he opened a batch-relay to every planet and moon in Andromeda’s Delta sector, to make ready, to construct ships and weapons, to protect their people.

The Arc Dominion was at war.

Colonizing the universe: a Brief history of the Present day.

Sol Aurelian Civilization:

Unlike their brothers and sisters that splintered from the initial convoy during the exodus from earth centuries ago, the Sol Aurelian quest was not for a new home. It was to retake the one they had fled. When their ancestors, following Jemma Sol, had splintered off from the convoy they doubled back in the direction of Earth, driven by faith that enough time had passed that it would be safe to return.

What they hadn’t known was that during the cataclysm, Sabera had reshaped the stars and the road home to Earth may have been lost forever.

For centuries the Sol Aurelian quested for Earth. After abandoning their useless star charts, they had established a grid pattern search. They plotted their course and travelled in nomadic fashion, stopping for no more than 1 or 2 years; enough time to extract from whatever planetoid, asteroid, or moon they found, any minerals, bio-matter, and supplies they could use.

In the centuries that passed, their questing became a way of life and less a race to a goal. Their grid pattern became holy, and ceremonial. Earth became a mantra, a philosophy, a mythological legend from the darkness of space, a reason to keep exploring; the death incantation became, “May Earth find you on the other side”.

The Sol Aurelian rarely travelled down to the planets they scavenged anymore. They developed a powerful tool that allowed them to extract most everything they needed from a planetary body from close orbit.
Thanks to their skillful geneticists and bio-engineers, they used samples from Earth to create vast Bio-ships that contained arboretums, farm land, animals, even artificial bodies of water. As their population grew they simply constructed more Bio-Ships, and with each Bio-ship a new tribe was born.

Morgana, of the Mastiff tribe, was Jaffa to the 5 united tribes of the Sol Aurelian; Akita, Mastiff, Griffon, Hound and Canaan.
Each tribe inhabited one Bio-ship, home to more than 5 million people.
Each Tribe had its colours, markings and scout vessels.
At the age of Upana, if the youth survived the ritual, they received their first tribe Tattoos, and then eventually took on a trade, became part of the ecosystem that was the Bio-ship.

The Sol Aurelian star-charts had no equal, through their centuries of travel they had mapped out a large section of the Andromeda Galaxy. They were well on their way to the next leg of their journey along the holy-pattern, a solar system in the Delta-sector with at least four “Earth-potential” planets, as well as other fertile planetary bodies, when one of their scout ships made a discovery that would change their way of life forever.

Jaffa Morgana was in closed-quarters in council with the Tsirs and Vice-Tsirs, the leaders of each tribe. They were discussing the dire situation with Mastiff tribe’s Bio-ship, and examining the star-charts for resource paths when the door opened and Visier Korren walked through briskly holding a com-tablet.
Morgana arched her brow at the disruption, the Visier knew this was a closed room. Quickly, and with little ceremony Korren bowed to his Jaffa and to the Tsirs and extended the com-tablet.

Morgana took the com-tablet and eyed Korren. This best have been most urgent for her Visier to behave this way, she felt the eyes of the Tsirs on her. This mess with Mastiff Bio-ship was calling her leadership into question, any sign of weakness on her part was dangerous. Jaffa was not an elected position. It was a title you were born into, one you left only in death, or sickness. The title was then passed to the Tsir of the next tribe in line for rule, at present that was Tsir Halu of Canaan tribe.

Since Mastiff tribe’s Bio-ship had an accident with a tainted supply of fertilizer, their plants were sickly and their air was barely breathable. The chart-keepers and scouts had been out searching for a planetary source with a large amount of Nitrogen and Phosphorus; if they didn’t collect enough soon the Bio-system would die, suffocating millions.

It was shortly after the beginning of this crisis that Tsir Halu’s whispers turned into boasts and dangerous challenges. It was not the Sol Aurelian way to be power hungry, it was disgraceful. The Canaan tribe was still new, only two generations had turned, their colours and marks lacked distinction or identity, and they had not yet had a turn as Jaffa. There was also a shifting wind throughout the tribe’s young people, there were whispers of colonization, a taboo notion whispered less softly of late.

Jaffa Morgana eyed the com-tablet and was awe struck by what she read. Could it be true? After all of these centuries of life amongst the stars, had they truly found their lost brothers and sisters from the exodus? Could they be nearing Earth?
The Visier confirmed loudly for all the Tsirs’ benefit that the scout ship had indeed found a human civilization.

Each Tsir in turn examined the images and data collected on the com-tablet. It was agreed this was an advanced civilization, and most definitely human. The planet was too large, too oxygen rich to be their lost Earth, but it was a sign. The Tsirs rang their bowls solemnly in agreement. Their excitement, however, was dulled by the grim reality of their present situation. This planet was to be their healing source for the failing Mastiff bio-system.

After a moment of silence, Jaffa Morgana stood, and walked about the council room, staring out into the vast reaches of space before them. She could see the glowing in the distance announcing that humanity had been here and had prospered.
Jaffa Morgana felt a cold shiver run through her as she came to the only conclusion that was open to her as Jaffa. She turned to see the hard mournful eyes of her fellow leaders, and then met the goading looks of Tsir Halu. His sneer was repugnant, Morgana had to restrain herself from wiping that sneer from his face with the back of her hand.
He was happy because he understood the nature of her decision, and what it would mean for him; the Sol Aurelian had to feed their ships, they didn’t have the resources to travel to a the next sector along that holy-grid, and more over, the Mastiff Bio-ship would not last long enough to even travel that far.

As Jaffa, she had only two options available to her. Allow an entire tribe, her tribe to die, or to commit genocide, to stain the united tribes of the Sol Aurelian with human blood. For no planetary body could survive the extraction process.

Tsir Halu took Morgana’s silence as an opportunity to address the other Tsirs, and Vice-Tsirs. He stood and, with obvious insult, took hold of the Journey-pen, the pen only held by the Jaffa. He drew a path to the next sector along the holy-pattern and to suitable resource to rejuvenate the Bio-ships, by-passing the populated planets more than four path-folds away. This little yellow line proclaimed death to more than 5 million Mastiffs, and he did it with a smile.
The room was still, as though all held their breath, they turned to Jaffa Morgana, she was almost shaking with rage, but Tsir Halu had overstepped, he over-estimated his position, and underestimated hers.

Jaffa Morgana walked over to where Tsir Halu stood, the sneer on his disgusting face now shone with the pride of victory. With a monk’s level of self-control, Jaffa Morgana calmly took the Journey-pen from his depraved grasp and pointed to his chair. Tsir Halu’s eyes darkened at the insult, at being commanded like a dog, but his pride emboldened him and he sauntered back to his seat excited for what was to come.

Jaffa Morgana, raised her hand for silence, as a few began to speak. She took up the com-panel once again examining the data, and met Visier Korren’s nervous eyes. She smiled softly, and took up the Journey-pen, clearing the mark Tsir Halu had made sentencing the Mastiff tribe to death. She instead drew another mark, this pointed toward the small moon orbiting the human planet. It had enough resources to heal the Mastiff Bio-ship, and from the scans it showed to be populated with a little under one billion people, less people than the planet.
Morgana would broker no debate, there was no question; Mastiff tribe would not be sacrificed.

The Tsirs one by one, rang their bowls in acceptance of the Journey-path, and with each ring Tsir Halu’s smile darkened to contempt. It was his turn to ring his bowl, he picked up his baton and hit the singing bowl with a thwack, stood and turned on his heel without as much as a nod goodbye to anyone in the room. The Vice-Tsir of Canaan was red-faced as he stood to follow the Tsir and turned to bow to the room before making his exit.

The council meeting was closed. Jaffa Morgana had chosen life for the Mastiff, a choice that could mean death for the Sol Aurelian way of life, for no-one in that room was under any illusion, this could mean war.

Arc Dominion:

Arc Alpha was the home world of the Arc Dominion, an empire whose bloodline could be traced back directly to Tephor Fynix himself.
During the exodus from Earth, Tephor Fynix, once a military general rendered useless by Earth’s 30 years of utopia, found a new purpose in his late life as he gathered a section of the convoy under military rule and left towards the Delta-sector of the Andromeda Galaxy in search of a new home.

During their long voyage, Tephor Fynix and his council began planning for the future of their race. Using the life sustaining technological advances they developed during their voyage they created a prototype planetary-terraformer.
A large egg-shaped pod filled with nano-devices and genetic material hatched on a planet’s surface. The nano-devices burrowed down through rock and mineral through to the mantel of the planet and down to the microscopic level. There they transformed the planet from the ground up, planting the seeds of life from the bio-samples harvested from Earth. After hatching the pod, the entire process took roughly 5 years before the planet was transformed with Earth-like vegetation, atmosphere and terrain, and from there another 20 years before complex organisms and bio-diversity flourished.

230 years of experimentation, and 17 more to perfect the process marked the beginning of an empire.

Emperor Craesius III, and Empress Deris II, the current ruling monarchs of the dynasty had seven children now ranging in ages from 35 to 14; Delphina, Martin-Alexander, Aelius, Cassia, Felix, and twins Lucia and Marina.

When Deris took power she had little interest in ruling the empire. It was a tumultuous time, the empire was unstable and had been recovering from two civil wars. Amongst her suitors Craesius stood out as a leader among men. It was due to his leadership and council that the uprising in the Tanis Province was quelled, and the planet, New Carthage, was under the Arc Dominion’s rule once more.

The children of the Arc Dominion were not just children, they were slow gestating rulers, future kings and queens; there was no play, there were only battle scenarios, and sparing matches. The competition amongst the eldest children was the fiercest. They would come to blows often, especially when there was an audience.
Craesius more hoped, than believed that this rivalry between his children hid a deeper familial affection. In truth, he feared for the future of the Empire, and vowed that each of his seven children would have a planet of their own to rule, that the Arc Dominion under his reign would expand across the Andromeda Galaxy, that there would be prosperity, that there would be peace.

In his heart however the peace he most sought after was within his own family.

Of all seven children of the Arc Dominion only Felix and the twins Lucia and Marina remained on the home-world. Delphina, Martin-Alexander, Aelius and Cassia were spread throughout the Galaxy, each trying to prove themselves in their own way.

Queen Delphina, the eldest and heir to the empire, had a powerful military mind and was tough as nails. Craesius was proud to hand her the rule of Arc Beta, the large moon orbiting the planet. It was colonized by the Dynasty after their terraforming technology was first perfected.

Duke Martin-Alexander, possessed of a cunning strategic mind, and a jealous heart, soon after made alliances and carved himself a position of influence in New Carthage at the edge of the Delta-sector, this planet held a large population and was second only to Arc Alpha maintaining the largest population of all 8 planets the Dynasty colonized. This region had a delicate relationship with the Dominion and as such Craesius honoured his son with its rule.

Aelius was heavily involved with a new religion growing in strength at the edge of the Delta-sector. He was disdainful of the military and spoke out against decadence while drinking fine wine from rare crystal. His hypocrisy did not go unnoticed or unmentioned. His monks robes of fine silk, were a source of ridicule. Craesius was not amused by his son’s behaviour, and saw a danger in his musings. A man with the power that Aelius would one day wield would be dangerous indeed if he were to be so easily swayed by others influence.

Cassia had developed a resentful temperament that stemmed from a deep rift between Delphina and herself. She longed for sisterly connection with Delphina but was ignored or dismissed. Deris hoped Cassia would out-grow her resentment with enough exposure and experience in the world. She travelled from colony to colony to study with different masters, but this was not proving to be the solution. Her strained relationship with Delphina was turning to a cold burning hatred.

For ten years, Craesius sent convoys and terraformers out in search of potential planets, to pave the way towards peace in his palace. This left Arc Alpha with a very small collection of ships, and it was then that disaster struck.

High above the stratosphere, a solitary scout ship, wearing the colours of Mastiff tribe scanned the planet for resources.

The Ars Templariate, the lost tribe:

Little is currently known of the Ars Templariate fate.
After choosing to split away from the Earth convoy, they travelled for a few years before landing on an inhospitable planet to collect supplies. An alien microbe found its way into the air conduits that circulated oxygen in more than half of their ships, and the results were devastating.

The transcription of the last broadcast received and ignored by Tephor Fynix from the convoy over 5 light years away read: “Help us, things are …. now, the cure…. on the very young…Please come find our children…please respond…!”

Why Make Strike Fleet Zero?

Where to start?

I wanted to take this time and explain why I decided to create a game.  A RTS styled, turn-based, tabletop strategy game…..In space.

In February 2014, I began to realize that there weren’t any decent RTS games I could bite into (or that i haven’t played to death).  Command & Conquer vanished, Evil Genius was gone, Simcity didn’t do it for me anymore, and the remaster of Homeworld would not come out for another year at this point, and even though no one seemed to like this one SNES title, I would sadly, never see Metal Marines ever again.

My options for tabletop strategy games were few, though top quality.  However, they were breaking my bank account.  So on a day like any other, on my way to work, I had an idea.  I thought, why don’t I make something that I would want to play?  Maybe I could even give my friends something new to play?  So I began to think of what I would want to see in a tabletop strategy game.  I put pen to paper.  Some random doodles came about,  some basic rules, some neat ideas, and BAM!  I had a vision.  Bases, space ships, nightmarish galaxy spanning type weaponry, construction yards, Armoured Terror Mechs, refineries, and an epic campaign system with an awesome tech tree!  Oh the spectacular joy!

Not just that, but through the excitement, I had a vision of humanity and it’s future would be!  And this became the story to Strike Fleet Zero!

Just Imagine,

A civilization, guided by three strange beings known as the Grand Dreamers, at the zenith of it’s Utopian state, destroys itself through it’s own hubris by attempting to evolve into gods.  With the successful transformation of one such young girl, earth is torn to pieces as she gains the power to witness hundreds of dimensions at once, however unable to control her power.  With but a thought, the laws of the universe reform.  Planets are no longer where they used to be.  Sense becomes nonsense. 

Humanity escapes Earth, but without the Grand Dreamers, and with resources running out, humanity falls into a state of barbarism.  This continued until groups were formed, and with their leaders, decided to split off and try to find a planet to restart on in their own image.  The three fleets separated, and over the course of thousands of years, began to rebuild.  However, the Grand Dreamers did not perish, but instead reach out across the cosmos, beaming visions of power and godhood to the humans spread out across the black sea, all pointing to one place that has the crystal necessary to achieve this power…

I began to work on a wide variety of concepts as to how the game would appear on the table.  Miniatures?  While cool, were extraordinarily expensive to manufacture for ones own bank account in the quantities that I wanted (but a great idea for the future!).  Perhaps a deck building card game?  Nah…

It then occurred to me as I looked at some of my prototypes.  And I said, “hey, Unit Tokens!”  I loved how little room they occupy compared to some of the other games out there.  Plus, they’ll be way less of an investment for younger players to get into the tabletop strategy genre.  Because I’m a huge collector at heart, I decided, it would also be fun if they came in random packs.  Players could even trade units with your friends if they were playing a particular faction.  But I also didn’t want people to be intimidated by having some massive, hard to acquire collection.  I wanted to keep it simple and small.  Perhaps 3-4 Factions, with a variety of Fighters, Bombers, Gunships, Destroyers, Cruisers, Carriers, Dreadnoughts, and Structures.  All of which would play a specific battlefield role.  Add a hint of upgrades, and a new level of customization would be born to allow players to fine-tune their style of play even more.

I envisioned two levels of play;

The Strategic Mode, and the Tactical Mode.

The Strategic Mode is where up to 8 players can build up their main bases, which would include refineries, tech centers, warp gates, armouries, construction yards, mech bays, psionic training centers for the pilots, crazy nightmarish missiles or fold artillery that can fire across massive areas of space against the opponents base!  Which is when you would move in your Strike Fleet and attempt to wipe that player’s faction out or take over their bases!  Between battles, your refineries would collect several types of resources which could be used to either build up your fleet, upgrade your forces with a Tech Tree, or expand your control over an area.  Veteranized Units you acquire during the tactical version of the game would be able to form deadly spearheads, and perform a whole slew of annoyances to the enemy commanders.  Once some of the larger Battleships and Destroyers come in, they can obliterate enemy forces at a safe distance with their super lasers and gravity weapons capable of creating miniaturized black holes!  Commanders would have access to some strategic abilities that can change the course of battles.  Some are simple such as sending in an awaiting fleet to support an advance, or simply cut all restraints and order an Armoured Terror Mech, piloted by the viciously divine Elysian Being to annihilate the entirety of the enemy Fleet!  Their power over the elements which form our universe are honed in and used against entire enemy fleets, all while they jump between capital ships and simply put their plasma blades through the bridge!  To have to face such a Godbeast, is beyond words….

But more than that, I want people to envision what massive space battles would look and feel like.

This is where the commander’s skill will truly be put to the test.  The Tactical Mode is where the real action is.  Players will use points to build their fleets, and upgrade them as needed.  Abilities from Tech Trees will also be added, such as extra firepower, or cloaking!  Once a Strike Fleet engages another fleet or the defenses of an enemy base, a game with a focus on maneuvering and target priority will ensue.  The individual star ships are then used like a razor blade to cut up the enemy forces by use of Dog Fight action, overwhelming them with hot lead or capturing the enemy vessels!  As pilots become more desperate and gain some kills, they will veteranize and gain new abilities.  Depending on how badly the enemy force was defeated, the victor will gain their empire bonuses during the Strategic Mode of play and potentially even demoralize their opponent’s forces!

And thus the great search for artists began.  Problem is, you have to pay these people (Preposterous, I know)!  So while I began this as a hobby, and with the hundred ideas I had and could not agree upon, I decided that I could no longer afford the artists.  Sadly, I thought that this was the end of my idea.

But Strike Fleet Zero was beyond just me now (I may have lost my mind at this point).  I wanted to share this with not just the people around me, since it was slowly growing into something more interesting.

An incredible story for the game began to form, and I decided to focus on what I really wanted the units to look like since I had the fundamental rules down already.  So with some help, I slowly learned to draw.  A whole year went by, and I was finally done.

I looked at what other game designers were doing and noticed that kickstarter became popular.  So I thought, hey, why the heck not?  So without having anyone know about my project except for the people that playtested it, I launched the kickstarter campaign.  And boy did it crash…

But my zealously would not allow such a simple oversight.

So instead, I began to look at what I have created, and with my newly founded experience, I decided that I could make it even better.

I redid the story, the artwork, the game mechanics.

I began to take it out to the world and have even more people playtest it.  I had some great people suggest wonderful ideas that would surely enhance the experience.  And now I am just adding the final touches to the game while continuing to playtest with the community.

Everyday, I work tirelessly, making this a second full time job.  All because i believe I have something that people will really enjoy.

There is so much more to say about what I want to do with this game and the direction I want to take it in.  There are already plans that I’m working on doing once I have a bigger team.  My dream is to give players an immersive world.  One where they can command more than just space ships.  I want planetary sieges with ground battles, orbital bombardments on enemy planets, neutral factions of pirates and bounty hunters.  There is simply so much potential here!

The vision I have prepared for Strike Fleet Zero is going to blow your mind.

 

Max Ginzberg,

 

The Campaign!

The original intention for Strike Fleet Zero was to allow the players to forge their own bases and fleets, while battling eachother for supreme dominion of the ruined galaxy.  Whereas Strike Fleet Zero itself is played on a…shall we say, “Tactical Map”, the Campaign is played on a “Strategic Map”.  The Strategic map will show the individual players bases.  These can include Research Sites, Refineries, or a humble Fire Base.  Perhaps a hyper galactic artillery structure?  While all being solidly defended by a defensive perimeter of turrets.  The players will mine resources, which will allow them to expand their roaming fleets.  A tech tree will allow the player to upgrade their units, but be warned, while the transport carrying the upgrade is on route to the fleet for refurbishing, a clever commander may intercept it!  The goal is to always stay a step ahead…The campaign is set to play as a galactic domination scenario for up to 10 players.  Players may play solo, or team up and slowly conquer the galaxy together.

There are many ideas for the campaign right now, which so far, are getting good feedback.  I hope to have more details for you soon.

 

Tokens, the Variable Map System, and the Strategic Action Cards

Strike Fleet Zero utilizes several game tokens.  These are mostly there to help keep track of damage or whether a shield has been knocked out or to mark out your unit that just veteranized!

Unit and Module Tokens

The bread and butter of Strike Fleet Zero.  The Unit tokens (upper section) are your main fighting force.  They come with a variety of abilities and weapon systems so powerful, they have been dubbed Nightmare Systems by the pilots instead!  The green lines display the Nightmare’s Arc of Fire.  The Modules (lower section) are upgrades that can be purchased using the point system that players agree upon.  Modules are usually unit specific abilities.  However, with the right base of operations, these can be used to customize your units to an even finer degree, allowing the commanders to utilize their forces to their specifications.

The Variable Map Tile System

Strike Fleet Zero is played on a modular board.  Players have the option to play small skirmishes or expand the area for some epic fleet showdowns!

Initiative Tokens

The Initiative is the first of 4 Turn Phases in Strike Fleet Zero.  Players will roll off for the opportunity to move and attack first.  As commander, you also have the option of relinquishing focus of your unit’s movement speed, or accuracy.  This will allow you to add a bonus to your Initiative roll, and get that first round of shots off!

Asteroid Tokens

It is up to the commander to take advantage of every aspect of the battlefield to their advantage.  Asteroids are one such aspect, which roam the area of operations as double edged swords.  These can be used as cover, or as deadly shrapnel bombs when destroyed.

Force Fields

Force Fields come in two flavours to combat the 2 common styles of weapon fire that could be found on the battlefield.  First is the Mass Driver Type.  These will include solid ballistics such as bullets, or shells.  The second, is the Beam Type.  These are energy based weapons of varying wavelengths.  Fields are typically designed to sustain damage from one of these types of weapons, but rarely will one Field be able to handle both that you will find on a small ship.

Fired Token

During the 3rd of 4 game phases, the Fire Fight Phase is where you mark your target for extinction.  This is a rapid fire phase where both players alternate taking turns selecting a unit and firing at one another.  It is very important to make good decisions here as you may lose a unit before it even has a chance to shoot!  The Fired token is there to keep track of which units have already fired.

Damage Tokens

What can be said about the humble damage tokens?  umm…try not to have them used against you?…….Nailed it….

Veteran Tokens

As pilots become more focused, overconfident, or simply desperate, the motivation to push their skills to the limit becomes paramount.  Once a Unit destroys an enemy in either the Fire Fight Phase, or the Dog Fight Phase, they will veteranize.  This boosts their stats to new levels, making that unit even deadlier!

Strategic Action Cards

Commanders are always prepared with a variety of tricks up their sleeves beyond their ability to envision the timestream of a battle.  At a moments notice, the commander will bark an order, and bring heavy artillery down upon the enemy forces, or set off those X4 charges on the rigged asteroids, or even call for a heroic sacrifice, all for the glory of your Empire!

Class Introductions

Welcome Commander.  Here you will learn about the various strike forces at your disposal.  Each class has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, which you will need to exploit.

[FIGHTER]

Fighters are lightly armed and armoured units used to decimate Bombers and defend against enemy Fighters.  Highly manoeuvrable, Fighters are outfitted to evade incoming fire, and are often times, superior dog fighters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[BOMBER]

Carrying specialized equipment for their role, Bombers are used for penetrating armour and are devastating when used correctly.  Bombers may become overwhelmed and should be defended by Fighters, and Gunships.

 

[GUNSHIP]

Designed for front-line combat, Gunships perform a variety of roles on the battlefield. Equipped with heavier armour and shielding, these combatants are extremely capable in offensive, defensive and support roles.

 

[STRUCTURE]

Be they long term or temporary bases of operation, Structures are the backbone of any army. Providing a variety of support options, Structures are used to fine tune the overall strategy of the commander.

 

While these are just the basics, it is the commander’s duty to utilize their resources as efficiently as possible.

 

Strategic Level Gaming, Proudly Presents, Strike Fleet Zero

Humanity is in the midst of a Galactic Civil War.  Military forces of unimaginable might clash for supreme control over the galaxy.  It is a time of desperate struggles for survival, and the birth of legends.  As Marshall of the remnants of your civilization, you are all that stands between victory…and extinction.  Your entire nation will be depending on your tactical skill, ruthlessness and guile to bring glory to the fleet, victory to your civilization and peace to your enemies.

Strike Fleet Zero is a two-player, fast paced, combat wargame, where you use your fleet to secure victory though tactical, and strategic mastery.

After 4 years and many revisions, the turn-based tabletop strategy game, Strike Fleet Zero is reborn.  Stand behind one of three star civilizations, each with their own culture, ambition, and combat styles.

The Sol Aurelian:

The Enigmatic Nomads.  During the exodus from Earth, and after the devastating civil war for resources, many of the scientists and pacifists decided to join the Sol Aurelian Fleet of ships.  Over the millennia, they have developed a technology that allows them to draw out resources from a planet while remaining in orbit above it.  They are currently the only group of people trying to recreate the star maps and find old Earth.

 

The Arc Dominion:

The Expansionist Experts:  During the separation from the other fleets during the Exodus, the super-industrious, and remnants of the outdated military, decided that their method of survival was more realistic and split off in search of a new home world.  After thousands of years, they found a planet capable of sustaining them just before they lost all hope and were lost to the void.  Quickly, a monarchy rose and they discovered how to terraform some of the nearby planets and moons in their cluster.  This allowed them to spread out their empire, and become quite resource abundant.

 

The Tor Phaet:

During the Exodus, the remainder of the population, disagreeing with the newly named Sol Aurelian or Arc Dominion factions, decided to test their fate and go their own way.  However, a year into their journey, the Sol Aurelian received one final faint SOS transmission before all contact was lost.