Alright before I get into mechanics I need to go over a few physics rules of my universe. Specifically how does space travel work. I am going to start kind of in the middle. I have a few things I definitely want to see in my game, so I will start with them and work forward and backward from that point.
As a side note I would like to point out a few things about starting a project like this. Early on when the ideas are flowing freely and you have the whole universe at your fingertips it is easy to think that this is the norm in a creative process. This attitude can be problematic later on when the process gets more difficult. I can't tell you how many game and story ideas of mine have died shortly after this phase. Like any great endeavor no amount of talent will trump hard work, so I need to remember to keep my nose to the grindstone as you and go on this journey together. Sorry for that side note, just thought it was important to say out loud...or write it down, or whatever. Now back to my regularly scheduled diatribe.
Now, space is big, really really big. And so if I want to have a game on many planets I am going to have to bend the rules a bit. I have composed a list of things I am looking for in space travel and where I thing the setting will take those ideas. Here goes:
FTL: The first and most important question to ask is whether or not you can travel quickly from star system to star system. As I have decided that I would like there to be(fairly) quick travel between systems, then there must be some form of Faster Than Light travel. I think it will be a fairly recent technology though, maybe only a hundred years old, or so. Now on to the kinds of FTL I have considered.
Direct FTL: something like Star Trek's Warp drive. Using some means, in some way, ships can just go faster than light. This is useful in the sense that it really opens up the universe. However, I am not certain that this is the rout I would like to go.
Wormholes: By circumventing the known dimensions of the universe you can travel at sub-light speeds and still get there faster than light. Whether it be the star gate from the show of the same name, or jumping to hyper-drive like the Millennium Falcon wormholes are an interesting idea to toy with. If I do this I then have to decide whether the ship itself can generate a wormhole, or whether you need an external device. I am very much leaning toward an external device. I really like the idea of a network of giant space gates that you have to send a ship through. Now I have to decide if humans built the gates or not. I am leaning toward not. That way I can add those truly alien bits to the game world. Maybe the pilots of ships go slowly mad the more often they use the gates?
There are a few other ideas, but when I got to wormholes I realized it covered a lot of the ground required for the others. I really like the idea of generation ships and cryogenic travel, in fact I am really leaning toward still using cryonics in my game. Maybe the cryonics protects the passengers from the madness suffered by the pilots. Though that's getting ahead of myself really.
Fighter Craft: I know that they are fairly impractical, but I really like the idea of swarms of fighter craft. Now I need an in world rational for a one or two man small fighter...need to think on this more.
Massive ships: along the same lines as fighters, I like the idea of massive ships. Maybe there is a certain mass threshold required to jump between stars. This would mean that fighters would need to be carried in larger ships from star system to star system. Of course if it is mass based then you can't have a Millennium Falcon or a Serenity...it is a bit of a conundrum.
Communication: ok here is a choice I can say is definitely here specifically for role playing purposes and no other. I have decided that there will be no faster than light communication. That means that if you want a message to get to some one you need to send it by ship. This leads to a frontier style game, where even developed systems wait on the postman with news from afar. Also if something bad happens and your characters are the only ship in system you are the most important thing in the system. Also this allows for vastly different cultures to exist within the same empire/commonwealth/governmental body.
Ok, there you are my first foray into the world I have set out to design. I would appreciate any thoughts on the issues. Specifically my space ships need a reason to exist, but any ideas would be appreciated. Tomorrow I think I will start out with an idea I had on skill systems.