Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Space Elevator


The fourth of the six settings that we are considering for our next game is the one that spawned our space elevator fixation…

The early 21st century is the era of billionaire vanity projects to change the world -- Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk and Tesla, Larry Page and Sergey Brin and the self-driving car.  And Corey Makarev and the Space Elevator.

Setting 

The elevator is being built just off the coast of a small Pacific island nation which has either contracted Makarev to construct and ambitious megaproject to make them relevant in the global economy or has been completely suborned by his money into doing his bidding, depending on who you ask.  Plot hooks can involve technical problems, rival megacorps, annoyed superpowers, locals who don't like their government being in bed with a megacorp, terrorists, environmental activists, shady contractors, labor disputes, unruly tourists, obnoxious VIP visitors, and the ever-popular budget crises.

I see Season 1 as completing the elevator, with subsequent seasons involving keeping the whole thing from falling apart.

Touchstones 

Babylon 5, with some cyberpunk and a dash of superspies thrown in. Although the elevator is the focus, there is a lot of potential for Earthbound action, as well, allowing us to mix in genres other than pure SF.

Characters 

The PCs are Makarev's personal fixers, assigned to do whatever it takes to get -- and keep -- things running smoothly.

What It's Interesting About The Setting 

It's an elevator. Into space.

How Does It End? 

  • Well: It worked! Makarev became even more ridiculously wealthy than he already was an easy access to space has opened up the solar system to humanity. Now it's time to repeat the feat... on Mars! 
  • Not-So-Well: It worked... a little too well.  Hostile takeover? Corporate politics?  Shakeup in the local government?  Superpower invasion?  However it happened, it got too big and Makarev (and, by extension the PCs) got forced out.  The space elevator will go on... with out them. 
  • Badly: Because, really, what could possibly be a cooler SFX sequence than a falling space elevator? 
  • Poignantly: The space elevator was the biggest, grandest, most expensive project in human history. A monument to one man's vanity. And, within a couple years of it's creation, the invention of anti- gravity, providing easy, cheap access to space from anywhere on Earth, rendered it completely useless. It was the greatest folly in human history. But in it's brief hayday... it was magnificent!
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