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Earth's First War: The USFP-Kralien Border Dispute

posted May 23, 2013 18:57:53 by Mike_Substelny
People seem to be really interested in first contact with the Kraliens. Here is some background from the manual:

In the mid-22nd century mankind first found evidence of extra-terrestrial life. Instead of flying saucers landing on Earth or greetings by distant radio signals, we detected thermonuclear explosions in the constellation Aries. Someone must have fought a war near Teegarden’s Star twelve years earlier.

At the time Earth’s richest nations had sent a handful of unmanned probes to other stars, but the entire human race had never banded together to accomplish anything. Then the threat of interstellar war brought out the finest in us. Soon scientific breakthroughs came every day, and engineers were designing starships, terraforming planets, and building outposts in deep space. Even as we spread to the stars, our politicians devised schemes to gain allies. Thus the United Space Faring Planets was born. This united mankind in a single, benevolent government that was open to other races.

The scheme found some success. As we spread across the cosmos we made contact with a few intelligent races which joined us, but they ranged from stone aged amphibians to meditative balloons floating in a warm gas giant. They were eager to learn, but had no space fleets of their own.

Then in 2175 the human colony at New Lhasa received an ultrawave message from a race who called themselves Kraliens. The Kraliens claimed to own New Lhasa – later they claimed to own all planets everywhere – and demanded that the colonists pay rent. When a Kralien fleet appeared to collect that rent an Earth space ship was waiting. Within an hour we were at war.

So Earth had some warships, early versions of the Scout you can play today, ready to defend our interests. Eventually the history books called our first interstellar war "The USFP-Kralien Border Dispute." This war was characterized by the following:

* Both sides believed they were fighting in self defense. (The Kralien religion says The Gods gave them ownership of our entire galaxy.)
* The official mission of the Kralien Defense Fleet was not to attack USFP outposts. It was to collect back rent for the millions of years that humans and other USFP races had been living in their galaxy.
* Thus during The USFP Kralien Border Dispute the Kraliens never used a sneak attack.
* The Kraliens ALWAYS announced that they were sending a fleet to collect rent (to be paid in gold, uranium, roast beef, whatever).
* Some of the more enigmatic races in the USFP actually gave the Kraliens a fortune in merchandise, which made the Kralien fleet more powerful.
* Most USFP races refused to pay, incurring Kralien wrath. Their only protection was those spunky humans and their fledgling Terran Stellar Navy.
* The backbone of the TSN battle fleet was the Scout, though USFP news reporters began calling it more glorious names like Armed Cruiser.
* The first starship Artemis was a Scout that fought in this war. Eventually you will get to read stories of their adventures.
* The ships that you and I know as Light Cruisers were designed during this war, but officially none were not completed in time to see combat.
* According to a rumor, one Light Cruiser was completed and did fight the Kraliens. There are no TSN records to substantiate this rumor.
* USFP history books say that after about 19 months the war ended in a truce.
* Kralien history books say the war ended in a "deferred payment plan."

"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
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11 replies
Mike_Substelny said May 23, 2013 20:15:20
While you can't exactly duplicate the conditions of this war in Artemis 1.702, you can come close. If you want to devise a mission script, or a campaign of mission scripts, that take place during this time period then follow these guidelines:

1) The players should only use the Scout class.
2) Difficulty should be set to 10 or 11. This reflects the early technology (low energy efficiency, weaker beam weapons, etc.)
3) USFP sectors should have only one (rarely two) DS stations.
4) The DS station knows the Kraliens are coming, so it will have built plenty of torpedoes, mines, and even some ECMs but no nukes (the Scout can't carry nukes).
5) USFP sectors should start with very few minefields.
6) USFP sectors should have several Destroyers and at least one Transport.
7) All sectors should have a 4-10 anomalies.
8) Add black holes, space monsters, and asteroids as desired.
9) The Kraliens are not as dumb as you think. If they come within 2,000 µls of a space monster change their brain stack so they alter course to avoid it.
10) If you want to simulate a Kralien base, start with a Kralien Dreadnought, disable its engines, and wrap a big generic object around it. Leave its steering enabled so that it can turn to face the players.

If you REALLY want to get into the canon then add some communications messages from the Kraliens. These can show their motivation and even give the players a chance to get to know some Kralien characters. Here are some general guidelines:

1) As they enter the sector the Kraliens will announce themselves and demand tribute be paid.
2) Some Kralien captains are very religious. They will say things like, "As decreed in the sacred scripture of Amborax, your payment of money is demanded now!"
3) Less religious Kraliens will be more capitalistic, e.g. "Pay what you owe or your destruction will take place!"
4) If a Kralien captain attacks a DS station he may say, "Your females and hatchlings are made to shriek in fear. Pay 5,000,000 gleps of platinum or their fear will be made into death!"
5) The Kralien language has no first person personal pronouns. When translated into English it always sounds like convoluted passive voice. This gives the Kraliens a reputation for sounding like sniveling weasels who don't accept responsibility for their own actions.

Religious fervor makes it difficult for Kraliens to accept defeat. This means that Kralien crews may mutiny and Kralien captains may destroy their own ships.

1) If a Kralien captain surrenders and withdraws then his crew may mutiny (either a random probability for every ship or pick a certain ship that is guaranteed to mutiny if it surrenders). After a few minutes the mutineers will revoke the surrender, turning to attack the players again.
2) If a Kralien ship's shields have been blasted down and a player ship is nearby, then the Kralien captain may overload his own engines, destroying his ship in a massive explosion that damages the players' ship.
[Last edited May 23, 2013 20:30:21]
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
Mike_Substelny said May 23, 2013 20:44:07
Finally, if you want to take your mission to the next level, give the Kralien ships, captains, admirals etc. names.

The naming convention for Kralien males is to have two single syllables separated by a hyphen. During modern times it is fashionable for those syllables to rhyme somewhat. Suitable Kralien male names would be Captain Mug-Wug, Commander Chag-Lag, Admiral Spleece-Keese.

The Kralien sex ratio is about 12 males for every female. While females may serve in the military (they make excellent politicians and top officers), they are rarely sent into combat. Nevertheless, if you need a female Kralien character use the same naming convention with two syllables. Examples would be Prime Minister Quango-Bango, Governor Ashy-Fachy, or Admiral Sufle-Pufle.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
matt.schillinger said May 23, 2013 22:25:24
Is there any possibility of a pre war campaign? The cannon as it exists is pretty fast and locked in. I personally think a first contact campaign or lengthening the contact to war would be interesting for a campaign. But as is, the 'within one hour we were at war' kind of wraps it up with a bow without being able to define the culture of the Kraliens and their motivation.

As should always be notes in these cases, this is only a suggestion/request and I defer to your canon authority.

Out of the history so far, what I could potentially see is two eras.

The first is a short era of first contact to war, which could be one campaign.

The second era would be the war itself and could potentially contain multiple

What are your thoughts on this?
Captain said May 23, 2013 22:41:22
Matt I know I am not mike but I wanted to respond. I personally think the Karelian dispute would be a great start for a campaign. While it is set in stone that means the first campaign will be easy to make and give us a feel for how to do it before entering the ambiguous eras of the artemis universe. So I think this would be a great start.

Question mike. Earlier there had been a conversation on comms. Wondering what idea has been adopted. The ansible or QEC? Whichever it is will effect the campaign.
To Mankind
And the hope that the war against folly may someday be won, after all

Isaac Asimov
Mike_Substelny said May 23, 2013 22:48:18
I'm not sure what you want in a pre-war campaign. If it's pre-war then there is no shooting, nothing for most of the crew to do. I've hashed this over with Thom and the Artemis game mechanics are (currently) not suited for diplomatic or scientific missions. Artemis is a war game.

That said, sure there is a possibility of pre-war storytelling. The USFP and Kraliens each knew the other was out there and they did learn about each other before the war started. The USFP knew there were other races out there who occasionally went to war with each other, we probably even had some contact with all of them.

A likely source of information would be the Skaraans. They were probably the first race to make (unofficial) contact with humans.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
matt.schillinger said May 23, 2013 23:10:19
Sorry i wasn't clear. What I was thinking was a set of missions where the first represents a first contact, which is tenuous to deadly. Then a few missions where there is definite fighting, but it is more limited to border areas where there is disputes and conflict where each side thinks it is in the right. In these missions we learn of the Kralien belief systems and culture through references in the missions. This all culminates in leading to the planet where the official standoff occurs and the war begins.

Effectively, it would be extending the canon to a few weeks or months from first contact with some Kralien expansionists, to the official Kralien invasion bent on showing dominance.

I do want to assure that these missions would be combat oriented, and not simply a comms-fest. I prefer balance and keeping all crew members occupied as possible in a mission.
matt.schillinger said May 23, 2013 23:18:15
Just to give a bit more detailed example, here is a sample campaign. Not all missions are filled out.

Example Campaign Arc

Period Begins

TSN has recently come into contact with a new alien race known as the Kraliens. So far, negotiations have not gone well, and skirmishes are frequent. The TSN is working hard to prevent a war with the Kraliens, but the Kraliens are claiming that the TSN has taken over some of their territory.

Mission 1: Squatter’s Rights

Side Mission 1: Guard Dog – Smugglers have been stealing Tyranium from DS4. Setup a sting and wait for the smugglers to take off, then pursue. (Multiple ships coming and going to the station. Scan system. Homing beacon/transponder. Kralien Red herring that will attack if provoked). Smugglers will try to escape early if the ship engages with the Kralien vessel (1 minute timer).

Mission 2: Gold Rush
​Collect anomalies. A Kralien crew is trying to beat you to the punchline.

Mission 3: A Kralien State of Mind

Mission 4: Enemy of my Enemy – Many ships damaged from a mine field explosion. Ships are in nebula, so Transporters won’t work. Terrorists planted and detonated the mines in their getaway. Work with Kralien ships to save the survivors. (conditions for tension )

Mission 5: Prairie Home Companion – The mission is to escort the TSN Flagship “Hercules” and the Kralien Flagship “Kor na” to the Argolan system. There is a joint strike force escorting the flagships. Both Kralien and TSN insurgents will attempt to attack the other side in order to break down the peace, and show their dissatisfaction with the upcoming Argolan Convention.

Mission 6: The Argolan Convention - The Argolan Convention is occuring amidst challenges to peace from many factions. The peace process fails when a bomb goes off on the Bridge of the Kor Na, resulting in the entire ship, along with five hundred Kraliens blowing up within site of the convention hall.

Period End: The Kralien War Begins
Mike_Substelny said May 24, 2013 18:46:12
Matt, there is certainly room for fan-made campaigns. But why do you want a peacetime campaign?

Feel free to write any mission script you want to play. Enjoy. That's what Artemis is for.

In the Artemis canon the USFP consists of numerous races, some of whom know about the Kraliens, Arvonians, Torgoth, and Skaraans before humans did. And there was surely some civilian contact, either direct or through intermediaries, before hostilities started.

I see no reason to use the old trick of two sides who hate each other, triggered into war by terrorists or conspirators. That trope has been used a zillion times by military science fiction writers, including myself. It's used a lot in novels and films because the hero can confront the terrorists or conspirators face-to-face, and such moments guarantee high tension.

While such stories can be told in an Artemis mission, the face-to-face confrontation is much weaker. Until there are significant changes to Communications, the heroes are limited to taunting and demanding surrenders (though keypress commands allow a little more, my experiments show that players have serious problems with the Artemis 1.702 implementation).

In my view the Artemis medium calls for fresh, new ideas. The Kraliens' unique motivation for being in conflict with literally everyone is one of the few really fresh ideas I've put in Artemis. It helps explain why every mission is a combat mission.

BTW I really like your titles. Here are my comments:

"Guard Dog" could make a good peacetime smuggler mission. Perhaps someone is working with the Skaraans?

"Gold Rush" would be a good solo mission for helmsman only. There is nothing for the rest of the crew to do.

"Enemy of My Enemy" could work, but there may be nothing for Weapons and little for Engineering to do. I suggest using minefields, space monsters, and black holes as the antagonists.

"Prairie Home Companion" could be a prime example of an escort mission. It should take place during the Unakalhai Uprising, when there really are insurgents and the TSN really has a flagship to escort.

"The Argolan Convention" . . . In the end of this one the terrorists win (the war starts) no matter what the players do? It's realistic, but some players won't like the end. I love your idea of a mission defending a peace conference, but I suggest you set it at the end of the war, and if the players win then the war ends.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
matt.schillinger said May 24, 2013 19:54:12
Thanks for the input Mike.

As I read your post, I suspect that I am ruffling feathers, as you have already devised the origin story of first contact and war with the Kraliens. I thought that these elements were of a more open nature due to being discussed in forum style. It wasn't my goal to rip up your ideas, so I apologize for that. I will take the points you offered and work out ways to use them in more open spots of the cannon and timeline.

Mike_Substelny said May 24, 2013 20:41:12
Don't worry, Matt. You haven't ruffled my feathers - - - or anything else. :-)

This thing we're all doing is something new, and we're all just trying to make it the most fun possible for everyone.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
matt.schillinger said May 24, 2013 20:47:16
That's the truth!
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