Thousand Worlds – Campaign Primer

jzjpuqozjh8u4dbtu6joWhere possible, I like to put together what I call a Campaign Primer before starting a new RPG campaign. The intent here is to give an overview of the style and form the campaign will take from the viewpoint of the players. It’s an advertisement for the campaign (look how awesome this thing is!) and also a warning (watch out, this is how things are going down here and maybe you don’t like that!). It’s more communication, which is almost always a good thing.

Here is what I sent my players, way back in the spring of this year. It’s brief and to the point. It lets players know what fun and exciting things are in store for them (get them excited!), but also lets them know that this is not a pull-your-punches kind of game.

The game setting will be somewhat like a traditional Edge of the Empire campaign, but set instead in the universe of GRRM’s dystopian Thousand Worlds. It is assumed that players have no knowledge of the setting or game mechanics. The players will represent a handful of desperate space-faring travelers trying to save themselves and their own unique alien species from utter extinction in the face of a brutal, intergalactic dark age, known as the Interregnum, as well as terrors from the past. Spaceflight itself will be a rare commodity, which the player characters (crew) will use with their own unique psychic abilities to leverage an unfair universe to their favor.

You will play a mismatched crew of a derelict starship, a leftover from the grand spacefaring days of ten generations past. Things at home have gone from bad to worse, and as a result, you’ve decided to throw what meager resources you have into this cobwebbed shell of a tin can and venture into the grim, alien-infested darkness of The Jambles.

The campaign is expected to have few, if any, Human crew. Player characters will be mostly comprised of what was once alien slave races, freed from the clutches of their hive-minded overlords, the Hrangan, in the aftermath of the Double War and the collapse of galactic civilization. Also, robots. Players can be robots too, that’s cool.

The playstyle sought after will be in many ways modeled after the rogue-like video game FTL. If you are unfamiliar with the genre, please rectify this. Expect an emphasis on charting/mapping hyperspace lanes, evading an unstoppable foe, starting with nothing and then growing an increasingly powerful starship, and sudden horrific death.

– Travel from star to star, mapping out the hyperspace lanes of the galaxy
– Uncover lost ruins and forgotten technology
– Salvage derelict battlecruisers orbiting the dead worlds of your forefathers
– Lie, cheat, and steal your way to wealth and power in a medieval/futuristic economy
– Exploit an unfair universe with your own unfair advantages
– Encounter never-before-seen aliens
– Explore the sad ruins of an intergalactic dark age of misery
– Cry sometimes, maybe
– Unlock the mysteries of your own latent psychic powers
– Stop the perpetrators of the universe’s most horrific tragedies – Destroy all humans!

Related to that, I also created a listing of all inhabited worlds in the campaign. The purpose here is two-fold:

1). To have a quick reference for the GM to look up keywords about the planets, as a springboard for sudden improv when the players go shooting out into the galaxy on their own.

2). To whet the players’ appetites even more, make them curious and hungry to explore.

You may notice some influence from P is for Planet. The worlds described here are the most interesting, in my opinion, from the written stories. I’ve stayed pretty faithful to the literary source, but twisted a few things here or there to make a better game overall. As you all should know, I don’t bow to canon, canon bows to me.

When I ran the campaign this summer, I did not include this information to the players right off the bat. They had some, but mostly had to wander around the galaxy on their own and uncover it piece by piece. This was a mistake. Have this enticing campaign fluff out there at Session #1. Make them dream of the fascinating worlds they will find.


Principal Geography: Forested
Technological Level: Stable
Keywords: exploitation, nature, deforestation, resource gathering 

The culture of Arion is extremely devout and worships dragons.
Principal Geography:
Open plains
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: Catholic, Dragons, Crosses, Liars, Subjugated, stained glass
Moral of the Story: Separation of church and state

The Grand Library of Avalon houses the greatest collection of records and information from before the Interregnum.
Principal Geography: Low gravity
Technological Level: Starfaring
Keywords: starships, Academy, learning, isolationist, elitist
Moral of the Story: Focusing knowledge on the elite comes at the cost of suffering of others. Withholding information and technological advances is morally reprehensible.

Baldur was cracked apart in the Double War by a Fyndii superweapon. Now it is a ring of asteroids connected by space bridges thousands of miles long.
Principal Geography: Asteroids
Technological Level: Starfaring
Keywords: starships, mining, NIMBY, planet was destroyed in the Double War and now just inhabited chunks of rock
Moral of the Story: Everyone needs to help out their neighbor in times of trouble.

The hyper-military culture of Bastion revolves around worship of Bakkalon, The Pale Child, and the superiority of the Human Species above all others.
Principal Geography: Metropolitan
Technological Level: Starfaring
Keywords: Steel Angels, overpopulated, subjugated, starships, warmongering, religious zealots, The Pale Child, prophecy, kill children and make an effigy
Moral of the Story: All prophecy is false.

The planet dubbed Bitterblooms was hit hard by the Interregnum and is now a frozen wasteland where ill-equipped Hraangan Slave Races, now freed, try to eke out a living.
Principal Geography:
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: isolated tribes, irregular winters from crazy orbit, exploitation from nearby starfaring worlds, ice vampires, illusions, charlatans, inbreeding, limited gene pool
Moral of the Story: Trust no one.

Corlos is a lush planet where a highly spiritual and peaceful sentient species lives in harmony with nature. They build their villages centered on obsidian pyramids for some unknown reason.
Principal Geography: Forested
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: pyramids, jungle, psychic community, dream-visions, exploitation of natural resources, upgraded Cool/Discipline checks
Moral of the Story: Defeat your enemies through dreams and false prophecy.

The surface of Croan-Dhenni is a mechanized nightmare of automation where organic life is treated as a sickness to be cured.
Principal Geography: Artificially constructed
Technological Level: Starfaring
Keywords: cybernetics, loss of humanity, starships, isolationist, “psychically” linked via wifi/borg implants
Moral of the Story: Eternal life is eternal hell.

The people of Darkdawn have a deep respect for the arts and their place in society. They have geo-engineered entire mountain ranges to produce somber harmonies from the sound generated by passing winds.
Principal Geography: Irradiated
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: Sadness, songs, loss, melancholy, suicide, subjugated, darkwing bats
Moral of the Story: Don’t kill yourself.

Greywater is a forgotten Double War military outpost in a hellish swamp world battling. The people there live their lives in constant struggle against the hive-minded fungal overlords of the planet.
Principal Geography: Wetlands
Technological Level: Stable
Keywords: subjugated, mushrooms, hive-minded fungal infection, isolated military base, suspicion, swamps, alpha-gators
Moral of the Story: You have to place your trust in someone in order to survive. 

The warrior culture of High Kavalaan greatly reveres expert craftsmanship in stone, the bonds between men who fight together, and the protection of the clan.
Principal Geography: Tectonically unstable
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: clans, subjugated, iron, fire, mining, nuclear fallout, machoism, patriarchy, knives, duels, Beth-Hounds, oaths, honor, jade, glowstone, roiling storms, warging into animals
Moral of the Story: The traditions of the past can be a burden in a developing world. 

Jamison’s World is a lush, oceanic planet. The wealthy elite live on scattered islands and ignore the large, main continent where the planet’s native sentient species resides.
Principal Geography: Oceanic
Technological Level: Stable
Keywords: ignorance, forgotten continent, crumbling ruins, ashes, psychotropic spiders, poison darts, fungal forests, dark continent, hubris, mud pots, aquatic, fish-men, gills
Moral of the Story: Don’t trash the environment.

The Kimdissi are known as liars and thieves. Many families are called Mockmen, possessing the ability to change their facial features at will.
Principal Geography: Jovian / gas giant
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: shapechangers (mockmen), lies, tricks, mind-control
Moral of the Story: Everyone lies. 

Life on New Pittsburgh is driven by the reanimation of corpses. All manner of perversions may be had here.
Principal Geography: Irradiated
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: animated dead, necromancy, necrophilia, rust, wastelands, overpopulated
Moral of the Story: Capitalism unchecked destroys lives.

The largest surviving Old Earth Empire battle fleet stands stationed at Newholme, where the military rules through fear.
Principal Geography: Open plains
Technological Level: Starfaring
Keywords: starships, enslaved machines, expansionist, aggressors
Moral of the Story: There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

The people of Norn live an agrarian life and are obsessed with gladiatorial games involving exotic animal species.
Principal Geography: Mixed
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: bronze age, feudalism, gladiatorial games, wild animals fight, zoos, cobalcats: psychic panthers, great houses, famine
Moral of the Story: Dog-fighting is horrible.
Persons of Interest: Herold of House Lyronica, House Arneth 

No one goes to Old Earth.
Principal Geography:
Toxic atmosphere
Technological Level: Advanced
Keywords: overpopulated, extreme isolation, hostility, xenophobia, over industrialization
Moral of the Story: No one goes to Old Earth.

The surface of Old Hranga is an ever-broiling sea of conflict among the hundreds of freed Slave Races battling for supremacy. It is said that a cabal of Hraagan Minds still live in the tunnels deep underground.
Principal Geography: Hot & arid
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: dark dark were the tunnels, hiding, hateful, storms, lost tombs, sealed vaults, Mind-stealers, psychic
Moral of the Story: The glory days of long lost triumphs are best let go to make room for new growth.

The twisted Genemancers of Prometheus are feared across the galaxy. Raiders from this planet fly out among the stars in search of fresh genetic material to add to their stocks.
Principal Geography: Volcanic
Technological Level: Starfaring
Keywords: genetics, mad science, crazy mutants, golden theta, silver theta
Moral of the Story: Science gone unchecked is a danger to us all.

Provinaa was once a densely populated center of learning and scientific achievement. It was devastated by the Golden Theta during the Double War and is now a giant petri dish of the universe’s worst plagues.
Principal Geography: Toxic atmosphere
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: plague, giants, pestilence, weapons testing site
Moral of the Story: The cost of war extends to the innocent no matter how much we try to protect them.

The people of Rhiannon struggle to maintain thier civil society in the face of plundering space pirates and raids by power-mad Promethean Geneticists.
Principal Geography: Jovian / gas giant
Technological Level: Stable
Keywords: desperately fighting off marauders and pirates and slavers
Moral of the Story: Watch out for space pirates. 

A psychic entity preys on the people of Shkeen, taking their bodies as nutrient in exchange for granting each citizen 10 years of supreme bliss.
Principal Geography:
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: psychic, happiness, hive-minded, red fungus, spirituality, India, peace, death, decaying animals are nutrient for plants
Moral of the Story: Is perfect happiness worth giving up freedom and the end years of your life?

The people of Shrakky have a history of suffering cruel experimentation by the hands of the Golden Theta. Their society now believes in the sanctity of genetics and blood-purity, leading to near constant interplanetary war over racism.
Principal Geography:
Tectonically unstable
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: racist 

The surface of the world of Slagg is 80% melted, irradiated deserts caused by concentrated nuclear bombardment during the Double War.
Principal Geography: Irradiated
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: Sands melted by nuclear fire into sheets of glass, horrific mutations, cannibalism

The Suthlemese revere the sanctity of life above all else. Their population now numbers in the hundreds of billions. The people of Suthleim live a life rampant with starvation and cannibalism.
Principal Geography: Metropolitan
Technological Level: Advanced
Keywords: overpopulated, religion, massive cities, weird food sources (nanowheat, slig-meat, oil-pods), hostile, expansionist, proselytizers, missionaries, food shortages, starvation, love of all life
Moral of the Story: Strict adherence to religious dogma is very dangerous 

Thisrock is a savage, crime-infested hellhole run by thugs.
Principal Geography: Asteroids
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: crime-ridden, gangs, overrun
Moral of the Story: Don’t do drugs, kids.

Thor is a desert planet whose original purpose in the Earth Empire has long been forgotten. In the wake of the Interregnum, the people here now are concerned only with finding enough water so as not to die of thirst.
Principal Geography: Low gravity
Technological Level: Stable
Keywords: food shortages, cannibalism, starvation, desert, dune
Moral of the Story: Do criminals deserve our love and compassion? 

Generations ago, a great leader named Tober lead his people away past the Fringe and into the unknown reaches of the Veil to escape the depradations of the Humans.
Principal Geography: Mixed
Technological Level: Stable
Keywords: isolationist, limited gene pool, inbreeding, hidden, nebula cloud
Moral of the Story: You can’t hide and detach from your problems forever. 

The Vendalian Masters seek to cheat death by employing clones and stealing the bodies of outworlders in the Trial of the Mind.
Principal Geography: High gravity
Technological Level: Stable
Keywords: body-swapping, clones, Trial of the Mind, languid, miasma, melting, obsidian
Moral of the Story: The rich steal youth from the young through the pseudo-slavery of wealth/work inequality.

Once the greatest military training grounds of the Man-realm, Wellington is now a bombed out shell of its former glory.
Principal Geography: High gravity
Technological Level: Advanced
Keywords: military training center, PTSD, marines
Moral of the Story: Integration of military back into civilian life is difficult




The planet of Worlorn is in a slowly decaying orbit around its sun. As a result, its winters grow colder every year. The planet is a dying world with a doomed population.
Principal Geography:
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: cold, dying light, iridescent shell-beetles, failing power, lost love
Moral of the Story: Everything dies in the end.


One of the lost worlds was seeded by the Golden Theta with genetically altered Fire Wyrms to combat the deadly Ice Wraiths of the native inhabitants.
Principal Geography: Frozen
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: dragons, ice golems psychically inhabited by spirits, weirwoods connected through continent-wide root system, medieval, castles, unpredictable winters, cannibalism, warging
Moral of the Story: Feudalism is stupid


The Golden Theta did great works upon one of the two lost worlds. They created a new Man-Species capable of living within dark tunnels underground.
Principal Geography:
Hot & arid
Technological Level: Regressed
Keywords: genetics, Groun, four-armed, adaptation, dark tunnels, cannibalism
Moral of the Story: Make love, not war. Splinter-races from Humanity must put aside prejudices and come back together. It is totally gross.


About C. Steven Ross

C. Steven Ross is the founder of Triumph & Despair. View all posts by C. Steven Ross

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