I had this idea the other day, about a really awesome new setting for a game. That idea then led me to another idea, involving a continuous series of versatile, off-kilter, and system-independent game settings, with hooks and leads and possibilities galore. I’m gonna try my hand at working on something like that here: the Desolate Destinations project. Each Desolate Destination is a self-contained game setting which has no specific system in mind, intended to be portable to just about any genre- appropriate campaign setting you currently use.
I’ll kick this project off with the setting idea that got my mind wandering in this direction in the first place: the Great Galactic Graveyard, or “Yesterday’s Armada.” The basic premise: somewhere out in deep space is a massive graveyard of ships and space stations. Hundreds of thousands of them, perhaps even millions, all floating around in the dead of space. The ships vary greatly in age, some decades old, some recent, some hundreds, even thousands of years old. No one really knows. Some ships have inhabitants, some have horrors, some have cultural treasures of civilizations no one understands or even remembers anymore. Perhaps this massive floating graveyard is all that exists of the great civilizations of the ages, all of which are now reduced to little more than the crumbling husks of wasted hubris.
Who are your characters? Are they from a nation-like collection of ships that have banded together to rebuild society? Are they degenerate scavengers, or maybe vicious pirates? Are they primitive cultists who worship the irradiated, degenerating power core of an ancient capitol ship? Are they explorers who seek to find the relics of lost ages within these massive ruins?
What is the Game’s Focus? Some folks have suggested a high-action adventure focus, which I think is a great idea. But even better for me, I’d love to see this setting used to run a game of exploration, survival, and discovery, as the characters – born from cultures long-adapted to generations of life within the husks of the ships – learn about these decaying leftovers of ancient civilizations, and try to build new lives within the galactic ruins. Major themes would definitely involve survival, because in crumbling environments, food would be hard to find, but even more important: how truly safe are you from that infinite vacuum only meters away at all times? And what about all these bizarre gadgets and machines around you? Who built them, and for what purpose? Where are the creators now? How will they change your lives?
Where is this Graveyard? The graveyard would work best if located at the far edges of known space. Perhaps it floats like an asteroid field, a long span of careening space debris floating as a result of the Greatest Space Battle Ever? Or maybe it orbits like a ring around a mysterious planet in a dying system? Of course, if the Graveyard is the entirety of the campaign setting, and just goes on forever, then its location isn’t really important.
Appropriate Settings: This could easily be ported into games based in the worlds of the show Farscape, or the Riddick Movies (Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick), or maybe even the Dune series of novels. I think it could also work in games based off the settings from the board game Twilight Imperium. Or heck, how about Star Wars? As for published game settings, I’ve already mentioned Star Wars and Farscape, but Fading Suns could work, and so could Star*Drive, Babylon 5, and even Serenity.