What Kind of Game Is This?
Sword of the Stars: Freehold (hereafter referred to as "Freehold") is a pen-and-paper science fiction role-playing game set in the Sword of the Stars universe. Most game sessions will be set between 2408-2800 CE, when the Human race began to establish and defend its first interstellar colonies.
How Do We Play?
Groups of 4-6 players will generate Characters using our Character Generation tables (Arinn's note: I want a Character Creation app, but we will see what I can get!). Once created, Characters will serves as the avatars for their Players, and the protagonists of an adventure (or series of adventures) in the game universe.
An individual adventure focusing on a specific location or problem is a Scenario; a series of linked adventures all following a basic plot line is called a Campaign.
One Player will take responsibility for serving as a guide to the adventurers. This Player will help the others to create Characters and back-up Characters, describe the game world and the people and places the group will encounter, take on the roles of a supporting cast of Non-Playable Characters and Enemies, divvy out experience and other forms of Character development, and resolve the results of combat or action using the rules of the game as a guideline.
This Player is known as the Referee (Ref) or Game Master/Mistress (GM).
What Is a Freehold?
During the years 2408-2800 CE, Human settlers who choose to leave Terra and build new homes off-planet have a variety of options.
First, they can remain within Sol Force, the united Human empire, and live and work among the Charter Colonies. Charter Colonies are the worlds and systems which are loyal to Sol Force. Charter Colonies are so called because they are bound by the Charter laws of the empire. Most of the Charter Laws are ancient guarantees of human rights and freedoms, including freedoms of speech, religion, assembly, and a right to equality and social justice. There are additional oaths of loyalty to the Human empire and the Human race as a whole which are also written into the Charter, and which subordinate the needs of individual to the needs of the Empire and the species.
Charter Colonies, particularly the Core worlds, receive strong military protection from Sol Force fleets, are well-defended by the empire's Ground Forces, and benefit from the support and services of imperial engineers and civil servants. Charter colonists live within the sphere of the Empire's Node Network and enjoy the benefits of FTL Communications, as well as access to imperial and inter-empire trade. Medicine, education, information access and career options are reasonably good for all Charter colonists, even those living on small peripheral frontier worlds and space stations. Those living on Core worlds are particularly well off, and tend to be wealthy, well-educated, cosmopolitan and have high social standing.
As a second option, Human settlers can choose to join a Freehold, an independent colony which does not offer its allegiance to Sol Force and the rest of the Human race. Freeholds do not typically enjoy military protection from Sol Force in space or on the ground, nor do they pay taxes or receive the benefits of imperial assistance in building their planetary infrastructure, terraforming their worlds, building and maintaining stations, etc.. Freeholds are usually located at a significant distance from the rest of the Human empire and are not favored trading partners for Sol Force civilians.
Freeholds do not always have a solely Human population. Humans can share worlds, moons and stations in Freehold systems with any and all other sapient races, and often they may not be the majority population. Every major imperial race in the galaxy has produced a few Freehold worlds which do not bend the knee to the parent Empire, and there are Freeholds which in which the dominant population group is Tarka, Hiver, Liir, Morrigi, Zuul, Loa, or Independent.
What Is Life In The Freeholds Like?
In a word? Dangerous.
Because they have no official military protection from the parent Empires that produce them, Freeholds are very vulnerable to attack by established military powers, raiders, and random menaces. Some Freeholds are actually considered rogue states, and declared enemies of the Empires that spawned them. This is not as unjust as it may initially sound: some Freeholds really ARE essentially bandit chiefdoms, naval bases and trading stations for those who make piracy a way of life.
Freeholds are built in the frontier regions of the galaxy, outside the borders of established empires. Settlements, stations, mining operations and trade routes in the frontier can be attacked at any time. Most civilians in the Freeholds consider it prudent to go armed, unless they are specifically forbidden to arm themselves for religious reasons. Many of those with wealth to spare hire mercenaries for defense. It is possible to hire an individual, a whole ship and its crew, and even a small fleet, if the price is right.
They can also be somewhat lawless. Freeholds do not necessarily bend the knee to the laws of the Sol Force Charter, or the established laws of any other Empire. For this reason, many minority and persecuted populations in the parent Empire try to flee to the Freeholds in order to escape persecution. Freeholds are also a haven for refugees and displaced persons, political dissidents and exiles, criminals, entrepreneurs, etc..
Freeholds do not always have full access to the advanced infrastructure of a Charter colony. They do not necessarily have a Node array which connects to the rest of the Humans in the galaxy via FTL Communications; they may deliberately choose to have no Node beacon or equivalent FTL broadband equipment at all, to prevent easy detection of their location by imperial fleets and pirates.
Freeholds are also unlikely to be fully terraformed and often the worlds on which Freeholds are built are not even fully explored. Outside the boundaries of settled lands, seas and domes, you can find an untamed alien biosphere, complete with largely undisturbed native flora and fauna.
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