Follow TV Tropes


Tabletop Game / Mindjammer

Go To
Mindjammer is a Science Fiction Tabletop RPG running on the rules set in the distant future New Commonality of Humankind. The game uses the Fate Core rules. A version using the Traveller rule set exists, too. The setting in general has been described as the established Traveller setting meets Eclipse Phase. There's also some Cordwainer Smith influence detectable in there.

The backstory: ten thousand years ago Old Earth began to send out Generation Ships to colonize distant stars, followed by millennia of stagnation and decay. Two hundred years ago Earth discovered Planar drive, reinvented itself as the Commonality, and set out to spread civilization to its wayward colonies, with mixed results.

A large part of it is the Mindscape, a network that people communicate through and upload memories into via implants, and kept up to date across interstellar distances with ships known as Mindjammers.

Mindjammer provides examples of:

  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: A few lost colonies and alien worlds are deemed unsuitable for contact and quarantined. However the Commonality prefers uplift whenever possible.
  • The Alternet: The Mindscape.
  • Arcology: Big arcologies are the standard form of human habitation on Earth (and doubtless a good few other long-inhabited worlds).
  • Body Horror is the driving theme of "The City People" scenario.
  • Bottomless Magazines: FATE usually advises players not to bother keeping track of ammo; the GM can declare that they've run out when it seems most dramatic. But in any case, in Mindjammer, most TL 9 projectile weapons have a small "Makepoint" that automatically regenerates spent ammo and energy weapons run on zip reactors, so characters really do have bottomless magazines.
  • Brain Uploading: A character with a Mindscape implant can create a "thanogram" snapshot of their memories and personality. The process causes severe brain damage however, so it's generally only done by dying individuals, and it's generally accepted in the Core Worlds that an AI programmed from a thanogram, an "eidolon," is not the same person that produced those memories. There is, however, a meme plaguing many Rim worlds known as the "transmigration heresy" that considers eidolons to be reincarnations of their original.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas, in a rather baroque form, is the dominant aesthetic of Old Earth, as depicted in the supplement The Core Worlds; see the artwork in that book for proof.
  • Democracy Is Bad: It's one of the memes that the Commonality bans in the Core Worlds. They prefer a "benevolent" oligarchy.
  • Electronic Telepathy: The other major use of the Mindscape.
  • The Empire: The Venu, a highly xenophobic theocratic empire that served as the Commonality's first big clue that their intrusions weren't always welcome — and the reason they reintroduced a military.
  • Expy:
    • Between their undying God-Emperor, ramshackle technology which is as dangerous to its users as to its enemies which is maintained by "technopriests", psychic commissars, and legions of fanatical "Mutant Marines", the Venu aren't even a subtle reference to Warhammer 40,000. Fan opinions are somewhat divided on whether this is a tasteful little reference or some kind of anvilicious Take That! aimed at a far more popular setting, possibly with an ill-conceived political undertone. (The Alexandro Jodorowsky comic book universe also has "technopriests".) The answer is likely the former, what with an entire sourcebook dedicated to playing them and exploring their society having been released.
    • The Cordwainer Smith influences sometimes turn into fairly clear expies. For example, the Custodians of the Commonality owe something to the Lords of the Instrumentality.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: 2-space travel is like hyperspace and enables speeds of three lightyears per day, but cannot be used for communication other than ships carrying messages. 3-space allows vessels to go three lightyears in one second, but can only be accessed through large and expensive Far Gates that have so far only been built in the Core Worlds and Sector capitals.
  • Genius Loci: Many buildings and vehicles are sentient. The entire ecosystem of Chembu, including the hominid colonists, is one of the more extreme examples.
  • Hegemonic Empire: The New Commonality of Humankind prefers to incorporate cultures rather than conquer or exterminate them.
  • Hive Mind:
    • Using the Mindscape it's possible to briefly create a limited version called a gestalt.
    • The ecosystem of Chembu forms a single planetary intelligence. When hominids colonized it, it welcomed them in.
  • Human Subspecies: A lot of genetic engineering has gone on in the last ten thousand years.
  • Living Ship: Chembu Bioships.
  • Longevity Treatment: Most Commonality humans are genetically engineered to stop aging at a certain point, elsewhere rejuve treatments might be available intermittedly. Though Earth had mandatory euthanasia at the age of five hundred up until the discovery of Planar drive.
  • Lost Colony: Space is full of them.
  • Matter Replicator: Makepoints actually do create matter.
    • There are still constraints: Larger or more complex items take more time and energy to create, so there is still a need for normal resource extraction and manufacturing. Makepoints are most commonly used to provide oxygen, water, other basic life support needs.
  • Mechanical Insects: Venu forces use spider-shaped war robots that can climb walls and are adept at moving in zero-G environments.
  • Mega-Corp: Corporacies. Some are effectively planetary or even interstellar governments.
  • Mordor: In the Venu sourcebook, a Commonality agent notes that the whole Orion Complex (The Venu home star systems) has such a sinister and strange feeling to it that he can't help thinking that there's some kind of malevolent force at work. With features like the Bone Nebula or the Graveyard Stars, its hard to disagree.
  • The Philosopher King: The Custodians of the Commonality, as depicted in the supplement The Core Worlds, fall into this pattern, at least in relation to Old Earth and its stellar neighborhood.
  • Population Control: In the Core Worlds sexual reproduction requires a license, and anyway, most kids are produced by genurgy and raised communally.
  • Psychic Powers: Some Venu can manifest true psychic powers thanks to exposure to a mysterious energy known and revered as The Dark Radiance. The Commonality is scrambling to figure how this is possible.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Partial example. The Venu make up for their less advanced technology with sheer ferociousness. The Commonality only barely managed to drive them back during the first war.
  • Sapient Ship: You can play one. They are necessary to navigate 2-space and are almost always eidolons. The Venu use human brainjacks but the process drives them insane.
  • Shadow Dictator: Each Custodian is free to govern their sector however they see fit. Some rule in the open from palaces, others work in the shadows rarely appearing in public, if at all.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Space Opera: It has much more tranhumanist elements than other works, but Mindjammer is still a space opera.
  • State Sec: The Security and Cultural Integrity Instrumentality (SCI Force) has many elements of this. Tasked with protecting the Commonality from internal and external threats, it has its own military and space force. It mainly works to study and manipulate the cultures on rediscovered worlds, to make them more receptive to Commonality control.
  • Technology Uplift: The Commonality's preferred method of assimilating lost colonies, usually starting by installing a local Mindscape node. Though some planets are deemed "unacceptable" and quarantined for some time. They also have a habit of letting corporacies do most of the work.
  • 10,000 Years: Roughly how long it is since Old Earth started sending out Sleeper Starships to colonize distant stars. It's two centuries since Earth discovered the 2-space drive and began recontacting those colonies.
    As much time separates our 21st century from the New Commonality Era as that which separates us from the end of the Old Stone Age...
    The Core Worlds
  • Transferable Memory: Called "exomemories"; any character with a Mindscape implant can share their memories.
  • Venturous Smuggler: A common view of New Traders in-universe.
  • Virtual Ghost: Eidolons, generally accepted to not be the person they were programmed from, are the most common form of strong AI in the Commonality.
  • Uplifted Animal: Xenomorphs. Some worlds treat them as slaves, while the Sentience Alliance is a Successor State along the Commonality/Venu border that is composed almost entirely of xenomorphs.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: Something that the Commonality faces more often than they expected.
  • We Will Spend Credits in the Future: The Expansionary Era Currency Unit is often called the "credit". However, it is only used by traders on the Fringe; the Core Worlds have no need for currency.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Before the Expansionary Era the Commonality treated xenomorphs as slaves while A.I.s had full rights. (Note that artificial intelligence is produced from the uploaded memories of deceased humans.) Things are starting to change since the Commonality assimilated some cultures that treated xenomorphs as equals, but laws vary from system to system.