Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good NightTech Infantry
is a fan-created Tabletop RPG
that is sort of an expansion pack to the Old World of Darkness
games published by White Wolf Publishing. It originally used the basic game mechanics, backstory, and rules of the original World Of Darkness... but was set in a 21st century world that borrowed just as heavily from Starship Troopers
by Robert A. Heinlein
by John Steakley
. So you end up with werewolves
, and Vampire Ghouls
in Powered Armor
fighting Giant Alien Bugs In Space!
The first few versions of Tech Infantry
were played as Tabletop RPG
campaigns, but once the original creators left college and went their separate ways, they decided to keep playing, after a fashion, by turning it into an online play-by-email cooperative novel writing project
. Since then, the game has gone back and forth between being a Tabletop RPG
and an online novel project. Stories set in the Tech Infantry
universe stretch in time over several centuries and quite a large chunk of the galaxy. These later stories are mostly organized into "seasons" in conscious imitation of Myth Arc
-heavy television series such as Babylon 5
. Seasons are further divided into "episodes", and episodes into four "acts" each, with each act including a few pages of story each about several "player characters". Separate authors wrote the stories for each player character, with one overall editor then editing together these stories or outlines into a somewhat coherent overall narrative, and sending the finished act back to the players so they could begin writing their stories for the next act. As players joined the project or left, characters and their plot arcs were introduced or killed off and dropped.
In the year 2001, a large asteroid crash-landed in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Out of the hollow asteroid poured an army of insect-like aliens quickly dubbed "The Bugs", killing and devouring everyone in their path. There was only one way to stop them. A mage named Bruce Von Eisenstein traveled to Brazil with a portable satellite uplink, set up the camera, and in front of the camera confronted the Alien Bug Queen...and attacked it openly using obviously supernatural magic. The resulting paradox backlash, as billions of people all over the world saw incontrovertible proof of the existence of aliens and magic, created a sudden surge of magical energy that exploded, killing Von Eisenstein and destroying the entire Bug invasion force, leaving Rio De Janiero as a smoking crater. The invasion was defeated and humanity saved, but the surge of magic also awoke from their slumber the milennia-old progenitors of vampire bloodlines, who rose up to resume their ancient blood feuds and compete for dominance. Millions of otherwise-unmagical humans
were suddenly awakened with magical powers as well, and the resulting chaos threw into the open
the various ancient secret struggles for control between vampires, mages, werecreatures, and their various factions and sub-factions, all fighting for dominion over humanity. The resulting War of Gehenna lasted for decades, and when it was over, an uneasy peace was struck between the warring factions.
The clear winner, insofar as there was one, was the Technocracy, a group of scientifically-minded Mages who had previously tried to suppress knowledge of magic and thus weaken their magical opponents more than themselves. Technocracy-created starships would be built to spread humanity out among the stars, and track the Bugs back to their point of origin and destroy them. Vampires were exiled from Earth, to form their own Kingdom of Enoch on three worlds out on the rim of explored space. Werecreatures and Mages would be drafted into the Technocracy Infantry (known as Tech Infantry for short), and used to fight the Bugs and any other aliens encountered. The East Asian nations, whose local indigenous vampire clans and werewolf tribes had mostly sat out the War of Gehenna, refused to join the newly-created Earth Federation and submit themselves to Technocracy control, and an uneasy Cold War resulted. Eventually, the Eastern Bloc agreed to cede their territory on Earth to the Earth Federation in exchange for several planets on the opposite rim of explored space from Enoch, and the lengthy process of evacuating the Asian population to the new colony worlds began.
Meanwhile, the Earth Federation moved out into space itself, attacking Bug colony worlds and conquering and resettling them with humans one by one. A secret mission by the Technocracy elders located Hodraida, the homeworld of the Horadrim, the nearly-extinct alien race who had created the bugs as a living biological weapons system and accidentally launched them at Earth in the first place. Rather than making peace, the Technocracy strike force kidnapped the few remaining children of the Horadrim and brought them back to Earth as prisoners and experimental subjects. Enraged at this attack, the Horadrim sent fresh waves of Bugs at human-controlled space, and the war heated up. Mere days after the final shipload of Asian evacuees left Earth for the new Eastern Bloc Worlds, a second and even more gigantic Bug asteroid crashed into Earth, causing tidal waves and setting off a new ice age. Billions more died, and the survivors were evacuated to other recently-colonized human worlds in nearby space. Earth was abandoned to wait for the ice age to subside.
As the Bugs continued to be pushed back, further alien races were encountered. Several of them were driven extinct, caught between the twin pressures of the Human expansion and the Bug counter-offenses. Others, such as the Jurvain and K'Nes Tor, managed to hold off the Humans and eventually push them back in turn. Earth was secretly recolonized by the Resistance, a motley group of those opposed to the oppressive and totalitarian tendencies of the Technocracy-controlled Earth Federation Grand Council. Under pressures of alien wars from without and Resistance uprisings from within, the Earth Federation underwent a series of self-destructive civil wars, as various factions and leaders battled for power and control. Religious fanatics founded the Christian Federation in a group of worlds on the rim of human space, and started their Holy Crusade to cleanse the human race of heresy and forms of magic not deemed derived from God. Independent-minded settlers on another part of the frontier formed the Frontier Worlds Territory, a locally-autonomous area only loosely allied with the Earth Federation. Large portions of the Tech Infantry itself rebelled, under the leadership of Marshal "Auntie" Sarah Dunmeyer, but failed in their attempt at a military coup to put an end to the chaos, and only created further dissention and unrest. After a second coup attempt succeeded in killing the leadership of the Grand Council but failed to survive to replace them, former Tech Infantry Colonel Arthur Clarke, a weretiger, accepted temporary leadership of the Earth Federation, put down the remaining rebellions, and tried to begin the process of reform to avoid future civil wars.
But it was not to be. A new alien threat, the Vin Shriak, a race of Omnicidal Maniacs
who had genetically engineered their own neanderthal-like ancestors into living suits of Powered Armor
, invaded human space. Entire worlds were depopulated in the conflict, which was only ended when a new secret weapon, the 3-D or Doomsday Device, was used to send the suns of planets in the Vin Shriak's core empire into supernova, wiping out the Vin Shriak homeworlds and cutting off their forward forces from resupply and reinforcement. The Vin Shriak were defeated, but the victory proved a Pyrrhic one. The Eastern Bloc was completely destroyed, and its depopulated worlds resettled with refugees from devastated planets elsewhere in the Federation. Neighboring alien races and the vampire-ruled Kingdom of Enoch invaded the weakened Federation, and had to also be defeated in turn. Finally, just as the Federation thought it could emerge from this dark period united as never before, the Caal invaded. Disembodied ghosts of a long-extinct alien race bent on an omnicidal conquest of the galaxy, the Caal tore through the Federation's defenses like they were nothing. Only a miracle could save the Federation...so a miracle was provided. Vin Dane, an alien given human form through genetic engineering and nanotechnology, acquired a magical artifact known simply as The Orb. With the Orb, he defeated the Caal, and afterwards a grateful populace declared him a God-Emperor of a new Holy Terran Empire by popular acclamation. But other powerful interest groups took advantage of the ensuing chaos to declare independence or attempt to restore the former Federation government, and a new civil war began.
Most of the above is mere backstory
for the actual plot of the Tech Infantry stories, which are set in various eras, from the early expansion of humanity after the end of the War of Gehenna, to the era of Civil Wars prior to the Vin Shriak Crusade, to the chaos of the founding of the Holy Terran Empire. There's even an entire season set in an alternate universe, where the Vin Shriak destroyed the Federation and it was the Eastern Bloc that picked up the pieces and became the Middle Kingdom. Two other popular eras for authors are "Y3K", a Distant Finale
era set a thousand years after the main plot arcs, and "Tech Infantry: Exodus", an Aborted Arc Spin-Off
story set in a colony world that survived the galaxy-shattering cataclysm at the end of the Y3K plot arc.
The online version of the game has recently started up again for a ninth season. This time, the game also has its own Wikia
, which is becoming quite impressive. Three previous seasons of stories are available online for free here: Season 4.2
, Season 4.3
, and Prayer for the Technocrats
. Two books by co-creator Marcus Johnston have been published set in this universe, one a novelization of Season 4.2, and the other a prequel novella set immediately before Season Nine, both are available on Amazon. At least two or three more novels are planned. The current Ninth-season story so far can be found Here
. A website depicting the ships of the Earth Fleet is available Here
, and a very cool chart illustrating the sizes and silhouettes of starships from Tech Infantry
compared to those from some more popular sci-fi series is available HERE◊
Tropes present in Tech Infantry:
- Aborted Arc: With sometimes up to a dozen authors writing at the same time, planned plots often get torpedoed by something someone else wrote. Other arcs died because the author writing those characters dropped out of the project.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Xinjao O'Reilly and his engineering crew use this when their space station is captured, they escape into maintenance ducts in the walls and make life very difficult for the Christian Federation rebels who captured the station.
- The Alcatraz: The Federation (and later Imperial) Prison in the G2 system is a Death World and prison planet from which escape (or even survival) is almost impossible. Orbital forts and warships in orbit to prevent rescue, powerful magical incantations and a natural anti-magic field to prevent magical teleportation escapes, and a toxic ecosystem overrun by insane stranded Bugs make it a not at all nice place to be sentenced.
- Aliens and Monsters: The Bugs and Hodraida are both.
- Alien Catnip: Nepeta, actual catnip, is for the K'Nes, who are, well, alien cats after all.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Bugs are never good guys, even the "tamed" ones. The Eastern Bloc are pretty much designated badguys as well. And any organization with "security" in the name is guaranteed to be evil.
- Amusing Alien: The K'nes are a cross between the Kzinti and the Ferengi, hypercapitalistic alien cats who are largely comic relief, when they're not being Bad Ass predators to remind us that they are not housecats.
- Anti-Hero: Erich Von Shrakenberg, William Bishop, and Andrea Treschi, among many others.
- Anyone Can Die: And how!
- Applied Phlebotinum: Applied quite generously in the case of Earth Fleet and the Tech Infantry itself.
- Artifact of Doom: Kuar, Xavier Pollos' magic sword, which grants its wielder invisibility, superspeed, and increasing magical powers...right up until it sucks out your SOUL. Also, The Orb, a mystical artifact with the power to destroy the universe, which the Caal are seeking.
- Author Existence Failure: More like Author Attention-span failure. A couple of characters were killed off due to their authors dropping out of the project.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Icarus Hicks has a tendency to think his way out of combat scenes this way.
- Badass Army: The Tech Infantry would be if they weren't so incompentently led. Oh, they have the skills, vampires, werewolves, reality-warping mages, all in Powered Armor, no less. But they have worthless leaders so they end up fighting each other half the time and the aliens the other. Which is a shame since each member carries enough heavy weapons to level an entire city.
- Badass Bookworm: Icarus Hicks was quite literally the smartest man in the galaxy, a neurological researcher who could fight his way past a bunch of power-suited troopers when needed.
- Badass Family: The entire Von Shrakenberg clan, Badass Normals who serve in the fleet. The Bishops, werepanthers involved with the Sabbat. The Yasuyama family, mages with their own Mega Corp..
- Badass Normal: Erich Von Shrakenberg, James Welthammer, and the Light Infantry, muggles in power armor.
- Bad-Guy Bar: The Jade Flower, Emile's Pub, and The Rage.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Abdul Johnson and Rashid King, although their hairstyle was never established in canon.
- Bee People: The Bugs.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were rival mages. Alhazen was a mage who put his soul into a magic sword.
- Berserk Button: Erich Von Shrakenberg on the subject of aliens.
- MY NAME IS HEX!
- Do not mess with the Yasuyama family, or their grandparents will erase you from history if they have to.
- Do not disrespect Titus Vardan, he is a Prince among his people!
- BFG: Plasma cannons and such carried by the larger sort of werecreatures in the Tech Infantry. Then there are the shipboard weapons of Earth Fleet, some of which can destroy a small planet.
- BFS: Arthur Clarke's Sword of Omens, which occasionally subverts this trope by shapeshifting into a dagger. Xavier Pollos' sword Kuar.
- Big Bad: Several throughout the series, with a new one arising as the old one finally gets killed off.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: The larger castes of Bugs can be easily fifty feet tall.
- Bodyguard Crush: Miro Creed and Priscilla Savant.
- Body Horror: What happens when you get possessed by one of the alien Soul Eater beasties on Fieras VI. Some of the Vampire Ghoul troops are intentionally infected, then have the alien parasite partially killed, to give them the shape-shifting and strength-boosting abilities of a Soul Eater without getting completely possessed. Or so they claim.
- Body Snatcher: The Caal, disembodied souls of long-dead immortal aliens, who possess the bodies of others and grant them superpowers as part of their quest to conquer and/or destroy the galaxy. Some of the mages and vampires can pull similar tricks, as can the Soul Eater aliens from Fieras VI.
- Bug War: The fight against the Arachnids is an ever-present background conflict, occasionally taking center stage.
- But Not Too Foreign: Xinjao O'Reilly, the red-headed half-Chinese engineer.
- The Captain: Erich Von Shrakenberg and James Welthammer.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Andrea Treschi, who starts out as a Federation officer, retires and joins a criminal gang, kills the leader of the criminal gang and takes over, gets drafted back into military service, and promptly assassinates his former commanding officer. Then he contacts the biggest group of rebels currently fighting the Federation and agrees to find and retrieve a disgraced former politician and bring him back to launch a political coup. He succeeds, but the politican gets assassinated by a rival faction and the coup fizzles. So Treschi flees to a neighboring star nation and offers his services...but that nation gets destroyed by a new alien invasion, so he returns to the Fed and helps a third of the star systems break away and declare independence a few years later. Meanwhile, in an alternate timeline, his alternate-universe self helped set up The Plan that led to the conquest of the Federation. Treschi becomes the right-hand man of the new Emperor, then orchestrates some elaborate court intrigue to ensure his puppet prince takes over when the Emperor dies, and Treschi becomes the true power behind the throne.
- Church Militant: The Christian Federation, one of the several rebel factions during the Third Civil War. There are also Crusader Teams, paramilitary police strike teams who hunt Vampires both in the Federation and later in the Middle Kingdom.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: A bit of backstory borrowed from the Old World of Darkness: the collective beliefs of humankind shape the universe and create the reality we all share. So, when the political situation becomes so broken that everyone comes to believe they live in a Crapsack World, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. One character actually figured out a way to weaponize this fact of life, and use it with Mind Control to force everyone to believe that the universe WAS a nice place to live, and thus make it so, but was killed before his plan could be put into action.
- Cloning Blues: Marko Vitek, and other Super Soldiers created through Project Vitek.
- Cold Sniper: Argus McCall is a partial deconstruction of the trope.
- Colonel Badass: Colonel Arthur Clarke, commanding officer of The Raptors, a special unit tasked with chasing down werecreatures and mages who refused to serve in the military.
- Cool Gate: The Jump Gates and Digital Gates that speed up travel between Federation worlds. Also, the Transit Beacons and Correspondence Portals used to teleport individual soldiers around.
- Cool Old Guy: Admiral Karl Von Shrakenberg, Icarus Hicks, Arthur Clarke, and several others.
- Cool Starship: Too many to list, from small fighters and single-platoon troop transports to Star Control Ships several miles long. The EFS Stornoway and freighters Resolve and Avarice deserve special mention.
- Crapsack World: What else do you expect from a setting with invading aliens, vampires, and an oppressive and corrupt government largely controlled by ancient supernatural beings who don't give a crap about normal humans?
- Cult Colony: The Christian Federation turn themselves into one as part of their rebellion against the Earth Federation. Eventually they are crushed with the help of a force of volunteer Jewish mercenaries, who build themselves a Jewish Cult Colony on the ruins of several former Christian Federation worlds. Mormon and militant-Catholic colony worlds are also present.
- Death World: Fieras VI would be a rather nasty place even without the Soul Eaters infesting the place. There's also the prison planet in the G2 system, whose landmasses are mostly swamps overrun with poisonous plants, nasty predators, carnivorous plants, and stranded alien Bugs driven insane by the planet's natural anti-magic field. A planet that drives BUGS insane is not a nice place to serve out a life sentence, however brief that may be.
- Deflector Shields: Mostly averted, although low-power fields to protect fast-moving ships from induced cosmic rays and micrometeors are standard equipment, they're useless against weapons. Gravitic Shields only exist on the largest ships, and they are also of somewhat limited utility.
- Demonic Possession: When the Caal take over someone, they control them, but also grant supernatural strength, speed, and toughness. Caal-possessed humans are described as being able to walk through tanks.
- Detonation Moon: To render Earth uninhabitable by the Resistance forces who had recolonized it and made it their capital, Earth Fleet blows up the moon so the pieces will rain down upon the Earth and melt its surface.
- Distant Finale: Both the "Y3K" plot arc and the aborted "Tech Infantry: Exodus" spin-off story were set hundreds of years after previous story arcs.
- Doomsday Device: The 3D weapon, a Dooms Day Device, a weapon that can cause a sun to go supernova. Used to end the Vin Shriak War in backstory, conveniently offscreen. Weapons capable of destroying a planet are depressingly common, mostly involving Kinetic Interdiction Strikes by starships moving at near light speed or gigantic asteroids plucked out of orbit and dropped on an enemy world.
- Downer Ending: When Season 4.3 ended with the destruction of Earth and the Federation, while reunited, stuck under a brutal military dictatorship, few thought that would later be looked upon as the closest any season ever came to a happy ending. Season Nine ends with the Bad Future most of the characters had spent the entire season fighting to prevent coming to pass in an even worse way than before.
- Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Justified early on, as human civilization slowly spreads out from Earth. Averted later on, when Earth is nearly destroyed by a Bug meteor, is abandoned by humanity, covertly recolonized by La Résistance, then destroyed again when the moon is blown up by the Federation.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Erich Von Shrakenberg blows up the Moon at the end of his story arc, and this is after a Bug Asteroid wiped out all life on Earth 40 years before.
- Energy Being: The Caal.
- Embarrassing First Name: Andrea Treschi. It's a guy. Plus there's Corporal Reichenspruger Tess, from a planet which follows the Asian family-name-first tradition, but whose family moved to a world following the Western naming traditions when she was an infant, and the customs agent screwed up her identity card.
- Empathic Weapon: Both the Sword of Omens and Kuar exhibit this trope.
- Encyclopedia Exposita: Each "act" has an epigraph quote either from a real or in-universe fictional work of literature, poem, song lyric, or a pithy quote from an in-universe fictional character. The title of each "episode" (four acts) is taken from the epigraph to the last act of that episode. Which means the episode title, and by extension the fourth-act epigraph, is chosen before anything beyond act one of that episode is written.
- Enemy Civil War: The Earth Federation seems to spend most of its history undergoing one of these.
- The Empire: The Eastern Bloc, and later The Middle Kingdom. The Earth Federation sometimes plays this role as well. So do the Vampire Kingdom of Enoch and a couple of the alien races...heck, pretty much everyone.
- Evil Albino: Admiral Voorheis subverts this trope mildly, being a fairly nice gal, despite being a corrupt political-military leader for an oppressive government.
- Evil Plan: Andrea Treschi's many plots to increase his influence and take over the galaxy
- Expy: Erich Von Shrakenberg is a male Honor Harrington crossed with his namesake from The Draka works of S.M. Stirling. Maeve Harrington is a darker version of Honor Harrington as well. James Welthammer is basically Han Solo. Jason Monk and Andrea Treschi are based on Frederick Forsyth and Anne Rice characters, respectively. Izzy D'Argent is a vampire cross between Willy Wonka and Walt Disney.
- Eyepatch of Power: Xinjao O'Reilly after his brush with Eye Scream. Argus McCall is short an eye as well, but his is replaced with a cybernetic one.
- Eye Scream: Xinjao O'Reilly is tortured at one point by having a soldering iron jammed into one eye. Argus lost his when a Bug Warrior bit his face off.
- Fake Band: Volkskrieg Overdrive and Gun Metal Grey.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Of the Hyperspace variant.
- The Federation: Both played straight and subverted heavily, at various times, by the Earth Federation.
- Fertile Feet: When Lwan Eddington becomes the Avatar of Life Magic, he becomes a mild example of this trope.
- Fictional Document: The epigraphs for each act often quoted speeches by background characters, autobiographies, histories, training manuals, song lyrics, and other in-universe media, as well as real-world sources from the Tao Te Ching to early-90's alternative rock song lyrics.
- Fictionary: In this case, the "Tictionary", a glossary of slang and technobabble terms defined in in-universe terms. Available here. Now supplanted by the "TwikI", the Tech Infantry Wiki, available here.
- Functional Magic: When you've got an entire army of reality-warping magic-using supersoldiers, magical attacks become standardized and magic becomes just another military tactic.
- Fur Against Fang: Werewolves and Vampires don't get along very well.
- Gambit Pileup: The complex series of plots and schemes by multiple characters that ended with Auntie Sarah's rebel fleet attacking Avalon while several characters tried to assassinate each other at once in the middle of a Grand Council meeting in the capital city below.
- General Ripper: Erich Von Shrakenberg when it comes to dealing with aliens or the human rebels who compromise humanity's unity in the face of the alien menace.
- Ghost Ship: The EFS Nightmare.
- Girl in a Box: An alliance between the new Internal Security service and the Raptors is sealed with the gift of the previous head of Internal Security's personal secretary, drugged and unconscious in a box.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Half-human crossbreeds with several alien species crop up from time to time.
- Hive Mind: The Bugs, and to a lesser extent, the Jurvain.
- Hive Queen: The Bugs have gigantic egg-laying queens who from the center of their Bee People society.
- Hopeless War: The Earth Federation is usually in two endless Hopeless Wars at once. The first is against The Bugs, large insectoid aliens that never seem to be defeated, no matter how far they get pushed back at the cost of horrific casualties. The second is against itself, in a seemingly endless series of Civil Wars, coup attempts, resistance movements, and supernatural secret wars carried on behind the scenes inside the very power structure itself. Even when the Eastern Bloc conquers the Federation, beats the minor alien races along the border into submission, and seems to finally reach some sort of low-grade stalemate with the Bugs, the former Federation military-political power structure becomes the NEW La Résistance, carrying on the tradition of endless civil war from the other side of the barbed wire. Meanwhile, the Vampires, Mages, Werewolves, and other supernatural creatures continue their private and not-so-private power struggles as usual.
- Humans Are Bastards: The only way they can survive in this world.
- Human Resources : The purpose in life of the human citizenry of the Kingdom of Enoch.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: The Bugs.
- Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: While usually the Hyperspace in this universe is a fairly straight rip-off of those seen in Babylon 5 and Honor Harrington, it's also given a bit of a twist, linking it to the Umbra and other supernatural phenomena of the Old World of Darkness setting.
- Idol Singer: Priscilla Savant, lead singer of Gun Metal Grey.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Vampires that drink blood and werewolves that occasionally eat human flesh are commonplace. The Bugs also eat people when they get the chance.
- Inertial Dampening: Gravity-drive ships use these to enable them to reach high rates of acceleration.
- Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Averted early on, later played straight when Earth is nearly destroyed by a Bug Meteor and the center of Human civilization shifts to Avalon.
- It's Raining Men: Drop pods straight out of Starship Troopers are commonplace.
- Intelligent Gerbil: The K'Nes, talking housecats. Originally conceived as large crosses between a Lion and a Blimp who constantly floated, they later got Retconned into being shorter parodies of housecats.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Xinjao O'Reilly is subjected to this by Christian Federation thugs at one point.
- Jet Pack: Erich Von Shrakenberg uses a fairly realistic EVA unit to fly from one immobile spaceship to another. Many types of Powered Armor have some form of Jet Pack as standard equipment.
- Julius Beethoven Da Vinci: Mordred is insinuated to have been several key people throughout history, including the famous foe of King Arthur.
- Kick the Dog: Andrea Treschi betraying the Frontier Worlds Territory and calling in the InSec battlecruisers to destroy the super-tank testing center from orbit. Some would call this his Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Knight Templar: Erich Von Shrakenberg, Arthur Clarke, and Marcel Deveraux.
- Large and in Charge: Among the Bugs, the Queens and Emperor Bugs are the largest castes, closely followed by the Guardian Bugs who protect them.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Xinjao O'Reilly and his engineering crew get locked in a tool storage room when their space station is captured. Dumb move.
- Long Runner: Existed in various forms for over a decade. Produced enough actual story material to fill a shelf's worth of binders when printed out in hard copy format.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The design philosophy of many Earth Fleet ships.
- Magitek: Magically-enhanced technology is what powers the Federation and supplies the Hand-Waving needed to make the Technobabble work.
- Magnificent Bastard: Too many characters to count, but Andrea Treschi and Modred deserve special mention.
- The Magocracy: The Earth Federation is, at its core, basically run by The Technocracy, the Mages who previously used the development of science and technology to convince most people that Magic and Supernatural creatures did not exist, thus weakening their rivals among the Awakened. After Gehenna and the founding of the Federation, they formed the core of Internal Security, and used Secret Police tactics instead. They also usually ran the Grand Council. Once the Middle Kingdom took over, the real powers behind the Emperor's throne were his Left and Right ministers. One was a Mage and mutinous Federation operative, the other a half-human Horadrim alien born in an Internal Security lab. Other factions such as the Vampire Kingdom of Enoch were openly ruled by supernatural beings.
- Manipulative Bastard: Samuel Wall, a normal human who manipulates rival politicians who have magical powers of psychic manipulation.
- Mauve Shirt: Herbert Gergenstein and Nirav Patel started off as bridge officers, just a name given to the voice reporting range to the enemy fleet. One ended up head of Internal Security, the other Grand Fleet Admiral and savior of humanity against the Vin Shriak.
- Meaningful Name: Damien Richter, lampshaded when he declares that his name means he controls his own fate. Several other characters are named for fictional characters in other media who share characteristics or bits of backstory with those characters.
- The Medic: Icarus Hicks was one of these during his days in the Light Infantry during the Vin Shriak War. He briefly becomes one on the freighter Resolve as well.
- Mind-Control Device: What Dr. Icarus Hicks accidentally invents while trying to find a cure for certain types of brain injury.
- Moral Event Horizon: Andrea Treschi killing his own mother and conducting a meeting with several prominent generals and politicians while her still-warm body lay on the floor in the same room, in plain view of everyone involved. Erich Von Shrakenberg blowing up the moon and destroying Earth.
- Mysterious Waif: Cerise and her palette-swapped twin sister both qualify.
- Mooks: Henchmen for various villainous characters, the lower castes of Bugs, and the military of the Middle Kingdom.
- Naming Your Colony World: See that page for discussion of the reasoning behind planets with names like Hadley, Avalon, and Wilke's Star.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Mordred. Pyramus Grey. Subverted with Israfel D'Argent: Yes, he's a vampire, but he's also the nicest guy you'll ever meet. Most of the time.
- Nanomachines: Some types of Powered Armor have a sort of Nanomachine paste coating that allows the surface to change color and texture for customizable camouflage. Alastair Dimiye's unit uses it to make their suits look like skeleton Halloween costumes, part of why their unit nickname is the "Dead Boys". Dr. Icarus Hicks uses nanomachines to repair brain injuries and accidentally figures out a way to use them for mind control.
- No Endor Holocaust: Notably intentionally averted, as Earth's moon is blown up specifically so the fragments will rain down on Earth's surface and render it uninhabitable.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Miro Creed administers one to the computer hacker who helped hide the traces of Priscilla Savant's kidnapping.
- Number Two: Erich Von Shrakenberg goes through several, from Johanna Ingolfsson to Xinjao O'Reilly, and back to Johanna.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Scyr, who may or may not be faking it.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Herbert Gergenstein, to all outward appearances a nerdy low-power mage and failed Tech Infantry soldier serving out the rest of his term of service in the Fleet, but who in actuality is a very powerful mage and an undercover agent for Internal Security. Later, Lwan Eddington hides as Tiller, a mercenary working for James Welthammer.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Erich Von Shrakenberg, Karl Von Shrakenberg, Terry Carter, Arthur Clarke, Lwan Eddington, and Maeve Harrington, at various times.
- One Nation Under Copyright: The K'Nes Llan, an interplanetary government you can buy shares in if you want to sit on its board of directors. It replaced a Monarchy that was also basically run as a gigantic corporation thanks to Royal Monopolies on certain goods and services.
- Operation Blank: Mostly played straight, lampshaded once with the contrast between Operation Ziggurat and Operation Foliage Gear.
- Orcus on His Throne: This setting has many potential Big Bads, but at any given moment most of them are too busy plotting and scheming behind the scenes to take center stage. Of course, as soon as one threat is dealt with, the ones the heroes thought they could safely ignore for the moment come out into the open with their new scheme fully in operation. Mordred is one of the biggest offenders, being almost entirely offscreen from Season 4.3 through to Season Eight, before re-emerging in Season Nine, and being a planned huge part of Season Ten. The Bugs also qualify, as while the Bug War is constantly raging, the Bugs only periodically make major offensives of their own, and it rarely takes center stage after Season Three.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: The Caal
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires rarely take center stage, but most of the Clans and traditions of Vampire: The Masquerade are still around, with their own space-based multi-planetary Kingdom of Enoch.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Most of the breeds and such of the original Werewolf: The Apocalypse are still around, notably the Siberian Bastet, which includes weretiger Arthur Clarke. Comes with Involuntary Shapeshifting, which can also be triggered by rage.
- Penal Colony: The Federation penal colony in the G2 system.
- Percussive Maintenance: Subverted. Xinjao gets annoyed at a stuck quintessence valve and whacks it repeatedly with a wrench...and it gets unstuck. His shocked subordinates remind him that you can't fix a quintessence valve with physical force, you need magic ability to influence it. This is how Xinjao finds out he's become awakened as a Mage.
- Phlebotinum Rebel: Marko Vitek, subject of a cloning experiment, ended up head of the Resistance.
- Porn Stash: Xinjao O'Reilly has a substantial one, both stored on data crystals, and in hardcopy form.
- Powered Armor: Of a wide variety, some more directly based on Starship Troopers, some even cooler than that.
- Puppeteer Parasite: The Caal.
- Pyrrhic Victory: pretty much every battle in the story is one of these, if not an outright defeat. The first Jurvain invasion of Rios is destroyed, at the cost of a jump gate, then a rebel attack is driven off with such heavy cost in Council Loyalist ships that when a second Jurvain invasion comes in, there's effectively nothing to stop them. The rebel fleet attacks the Federation capital in Avalon, and is again driven off at the cost of such heavy Federation casualties that future offensive operations against anyone are pretty much impossible. And in the alternate timeline, the Vin Shriak is defeated, at the cost of so weakening the Federation that they are powerless to resist a subsequent invasion by the Eastern Bloc and their alien allies.
- Reality Warper: How mages work in this universe.
- Redshirt Army: The Light Infantry, non-magical humans in power armor pressed into service in the front lines when there aren't enough awakened troops available. The forces of the Christian Federation and the lower castes of Bugs also qualify.
- La Résistance: The Resistance are key players in most of the game's timeline.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Many of the rebel factions, from the Liberation and their campaign of terror bombings, through the Christian Federation and their penchant for suicide-ramming enemy warships with unarmed freighters, to Arthur Clarke's band of Federation holdouts against the Middle Kingdom, are far from nice people themselves. Even the nicest group of rebels, The Resistance, mostly get involved in helping supernatural creatures avoid conscription into the titular Tech Infantry and thus weaken humanity's defenses against the several Alien Hordes out to eat, enslave, or genocide humanity.
- Rewriting Reality: How Icarus Hicks wants to weaponize Clap Your Hands If You Believe with his Mind-Control Device.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Notably averted, although the Horadrim do qualify when they take human form.
- Running Gag: Tossing members of InSec or ImpSec out of airlocks. Erich Von Shrakenberg and Damien Richter blowing stuff up. Arthur Clarke's status as a weretiger. William Bishop's love of sandwiches. Xinjao O'Reilly's Porn Stash.
- Satiating Sandwich: William Bishop's Running Gag.
- Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Christian Federation are Scary Dogmatic Humans.
- Science Fantasy: You've got aliens, mages, starships, vampires, powered armor, and werewolves.
- Secret Police: Internal Security, or InSec in the Earth Federation. Imperial Security, or ImpSec in the Middle Kingdom.
- Sergeant Rock: Many of the Tech Infantry characters of various ranks qualify.
- Shared Universe: A couple of dozen people have written stories in this universe.
- Shout-Out: Many and varied, from It's a Wonderful Life to The Draka novels of S.M. Stirling.
- Single-Biome Planet: Notably averted, except for a few lifeless, airless rocks barely worth fighting over. Human-habitable worlds such as Avalon and New Madrid have similar variation in terrain and climate as Earth, and a mix of Earth-evolved and native flora and fauna.
- Smooch of Victory: Miu gave Heth this after he saved her from an assassination attempt. A bit more than a smooch, actually; she was pregnant within hours, and they went on to have ten children together.
- Soul Jar: Kuar, the sword that eats your soul. Former head of InSec Richard Fox lives on with his soul in a computer.
- Space Marine: Tech Infantry soldiers in power armor exemplify this trope. TI or Light Infantry units embarked on starships embody the literal meaning of the term.
- Starfish Aliens: The Bugs are insect-like monsters with multiple body forms and specialized castes. The Jurvain are three-legged, three-eyed hairless purple egg-layers with a limited Hive Mind. The K'Nes Tor are a feudal race of levitating, furry-skinned aliens who vaguely resemble a cross between a lion and a blimp. The Horadrim are insectoid aliens who can reshape their bodies with nanotechnology to resemble humans.
- State Sec: Internal Security, or InSec in the Earth Federation. Imperial Security, or ImpSec in the Middle Kingdom. Both named in conscious imitation of the original State Sec in Honor Harrington.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Starships, jump gates, cities, asteroids, moons...and that's just one character's plot line!
- Super Registration Act: All supernatural beings, from Werecreatutres to Mages, must by law serve in the military.
- Super Soldiers: The Tech Infantry is an entire army of these, with werewolves, vampires, and mages in Powered Armor. But that's not enough for the Federation. No, they have to have multiple secret projects to create even MORE powerful Super Soldiers, or convert ordinary humans into magic-users.
- Tailor-Made Prison: There's the Federation (and later Imperial) Prison in the G2 system, a Death World with orbiting warships and magical fields to prevent escape or rescue, where the most dangerous supernatural criminals are sent. The more mundane version of the trope is seen when Andrea Treschi kidnaps Xavier Pollos and holds him prisoner in a deep pit to force him to carry out an assassination on Treschi's behalf.
- Tank Goodness: Giza-class Mobile Seige Fortresses are hovering super-tanks the size and shape of Egyptian pyramids.
- Techno Babble: Occasionally got a little thick around Xinjao O'Reilly, Erich Von Shrakenberg, and Icarus Hicks. There is a whole website dedicated to the Technobabble of this series HERE.
- Theme Naming: Many of the ships in Earth Fleet are named by class according to certain themes: Cities, famous warships of the wet-navy past, war gods, battles, great military leaders, and so forth. The various Jurvain planets are named in Korean. The planets of the Kingdom of Enoch are mostly named after very early characters in the Old Testament.
- Time Skip: The new season nine is set 20 years after the events in a previous online novel project, Rage Against The Dying of the Light. Which in turn was set several decades after the previous Tabletop RPG campaigns. The Y3K project, another series of Tabletop RPG campaigns, are set several centuries after the online novel projects. The Season Eight alternate timeline was set 27 years after the previous season, but in an alternate timeline, of course.
- Time Stands Still: One of the powers of Kuar, the magic sword of Xavier Pollos.
- Took a Level in Badass: Xinjao O'Reilly starts off as a comic-relief starship engineer with a Porn Stash and a weight problem. By the end of his story, he's got an Eyepatch of Power and is leading a mercenary fleet of rustbucket warships to personally crush the entire Christian Federation.
- Herbert Gergenstein started off as an extra, a mere bridge officer with an interesting backstory. He later became head of Internal Security, launched a rebellion that devastated the capital planet, and finally fled to exile...only to return as head of intelligence for the Federation Loyalists in the next civil war.
- Trope Overdosed: Just look at this list!
- The Unmasqued World: Early in the backstory, a centuries-long Masquerade was broken by the Bug invasion of Brazil, and the existence of Mages, Vampires, and Werewolves was revealed to the masses in the ensuing War of Gehenna.
- Villain Sue: Andrea Treschi, Vin Dane, and (arguably) Erich Von Shrakenberg.
- Walking the Earth: Lwan Eddington spends most of his life doing this after retiring from the military, trying to find one honest man to lead the Federation.
- The War of Earthly Aggression: In addition to the internal rebels that are not so much interested in independence as in taking over the whole pie for themselves, the Federation and Middle Kingdom also have to deal with the Frontier Worlds Territory, Western Reserve, and a few other minor human political entities that are independent human colony worlds.
- Wave Motion Gun: Gravitic Rams, which fire a small black hole through their target. Graviton Cannons, which tear a target apart with asymmetrical gravity waves.
- Web Serial Novel: A collaboratively-written one, in some incarnations. A Tabletop RPG in others.
- We Have Reserves: Bug tactics in a nutshell. Light Infantry and Tech Infantry tactics often fall into this category as well.
- We Used to Be Friends: Arthur Clarke and Lwan Eddington were once squadmates and the best of friends. Then they were sent to rescue some civilian scientists from an Asteroid Base. When it came time to escape, they only had enough room in the surviving shuttles for the soldiers or the scientists, but not both. Lwan ordered the scientists executed so his soldiers could be saved instead. Clarke saw this (with good reason) as a Moral Event Horizon for Lwan, and never forgave him. Their feud would lead to the Second and Third Civil Wars, and ultimately to the destruction of the Earth Federation they both loved. In an Alternate Timeline, it even spoiled their best chance to restore the Federation, when a scientist with the plans for a new superweapon locked in his head was literally caught in the crossfire between them and killed. Lwan would later repent of his actions and spend the rest of his life Walking the Earth trying to find someone worthy to lead the Federation, while Clarke let his anger simmer and drive him to take over the Federation himself and rule it with an iron fist for 20 years.
- With Friends Like These...: Early on, the Federation is allied with the Kingdom of Enoch against the greater common threat of the Bugs. So a nation where Vampires are officially hunted down and exterminated allies with a nation run by ancient Vampire Lords bent on domination of all life. Naturally, it doesn't last.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: There are several different ways to gain both great power and great psychoses in this universe. Being a werewolf turned into a vampire, also known as an Abomination...possessing the magic sword Kuar and letting it suck out your soul, and a few others. One of the most powerful beings in this universe is the Antediluvian Vampire Malkav, who spends the entire story imprisoned in a multidimensional prison of his own accidental creation.
- A Wizard Did It: The explanation for the more ridiculous bits of Technobabble and Applied Phlebotinum.
- World Half Empty: The original game was partly based on the Old World of Darkness, so of course it's a dark and pessimistic world, with an oppressive and corrupt government, genocidal aliens, ancient supernatural entities manipulating the unawakened human population for their own mysterious ends, and any idealistic characters quickly getting the hope kicked out of them by a callous and indifferent universe.
- Xanatos Gambit: Andrea Teschi's plot to allow the Vin Shriak to severely weaken the Federation before having the Eastern Bloc intervene. If the Federation beats back the Vin Shriak, fine, the Eastern Bloc is also saved from invasion, and the Federation is still probably too weakened to resist afterwards. If the Vin Shriak destroy the Federation, fine, the Federation will probably weaken them enough for the Eastern Bloc and its other alien allies to reconquer the former Federation worlds.
- Yakuza: Prominent in the Middle Kingdom era.
- Yellow Peril: The Eastern Bloc, and later the Middle Kingdom, where humans of Asian ethnic stock oppress everyone else.