Setting: Angels Among the Stars

A little over two weeks ago, I posted an editorial about what I like and don’t like in a setting. I figure it is only fair that I post one of my own that’s been kicking around in my head for a while. I’m not really of the “you can’t talk unless you can do better” camp, but it’s a good excuse to get some down in text instead of just living in my head. This was inspired by an Ad Eva campaign I ran, but didn’t get to finish, but really isn’t dependent on you knowing much about Evangelion.

Elevator Pitch

Just now, a rather selfish and vain teenage girl has seized the power of an ancient eldritch abomination, one that has the power to create more life in its image. She will use this power to set herself up as humanity’s god. Seeking to spread her influence as far as she can, she will birth great beasts that bear people in their bellies and allow mankind to take to the stars and terraform worlds. Among the stars, however, there exist other such ‘gods’, who do not take kindly to what humanity has done to one of their own. Besieged both within by those who still resist the “goddess'” rule, and from without by alien horrors. Will you fight for the sake of your goddess, and the gifts and protection she brings, or will you turn her own biological mechs and ships against her, gaining humanity’s freedom, even if it means losing her aid?

The Situation

Mankind has a god. Not an abstract, unobservable, metaphysical entity like they worshiped in the days of old, but a physical being who can give life to the angels, living creatures of immense size and power. It is through Her Grace’s power that mankind has taken to the stars. Carried inside massive angels that act as living ships we can cross lightyears in hours. Her Grace’s angels can take frozen, boiling, or otherwise inhospitable worlds, and allow men to walk on the surface unprotected within a generation. Her Grace can be a fickle, demanding goddess, but under Her divine guidance mankind has spread and prospered.

But all is not well in Her Grace’s domains. Here in the stars, mankind is not alone, and neither is Her Grace the only god. There are other, different forms of life, created by different gods. They say these gods fear Her Grace. She was once a human like us, but took Her power from one of alien god’s kin. They say that this fear causes them to seek our destruction. The divine power these gods grant their creation cuts right through flesh and metal, and no work of man can reliably pierce their hide. Yet we have no reason to fear them, for Her Grace’s angels are mighty as well. Our living ships glow with armor made of Her divine light, and are armed with Her wrath made manifest. In their bellies our ships bear the Nephilim, highly maneuverable personal craft created in our image, so that we may bring Her Grace’s judgement to Her foes.

Yet, for all She gives us, there are those who would turn their back on Her Grace. There are some that suggest communication and co-existence is possible with Her Grace’s foes, perhaps at the cost of Her Grace answering for her supposed crimes against the gods. There are those who live in the deeper parts of space, far from both the enemy and from our ancestral Earth, who refuse to recognize Her Grace’s authority and claim sovereignty. And worst of all, are the infidels of the Blackwood Faction. These vile terrorists deny Her Grace’s divinity, and use ancient and heretical techniques to bind and lobotomize Her Grace’s angels with machinery, and thereby use them against Her. Some profess faith in the ancient spiritual religions of the past, while others still see no need for a god at all.

Even with enemies on all sides, mankind moves forward as it always has.  There are those who rely on Her Grace’s blessing and seek their fortune out among the stars.  Those who brave the darkness of space to explore unseen worlds and seek out a new life for themselves.  And there are still those, believer and infidel alike, willing to fight and die for what they believe in.

Campaign Ideas

  • Nephilim Squad J-146: In the style of Mobile Suit Gundam (or, knowing my groups, Martian Successor Nadesico), the players take on the role of Nephilim pilots stationed on a Principality Class warship. Present the aliens for a more strange and monstrous threat, while present separatists (with legitimate grievances!) for something a little more relatable and nuanced situation. In mecha shows of this style, it’s the stuff between fights that makes the show, so I’d try to put a focus on interacting with the ship’s crew, and exploring the setting, but do what works for your group.
  • Free Traders: I also think a Traveler/SWN-style game (perhaps even using one of those systems with some slight refluffing), would be pretty neat as well. Give the PCs an angel ship that’s got a few scars and developed a bit of a personality over the years, a debt from the fees to acquire charter to operate the ship (a charter that technically specifies a tithe that goes to the church on their business as well). Then just set them loose in the fringes of human space to make their fortune, with the aliens being more of a looming background threat and thing to run away from then a thing to fight.
  • Colony Development: The PCs are some of the caretakers of a new angelic terraformer, right near the edge of human space.  The PCs have to make decisions about the development of their new home, as well as contend with church officials, rival factions, and external threats to the colony to keep their new home safe.
  • The Blackwood Faction: There’s definitely a core conflict here, you can either start out with the desire to overthrow the so-called ‘goddess’, and have the PCs either supporting or against that, or it can be something in the background of a different type of campaign, ready for the PCs to go once they get a feel for the world and decide to take a stand.