By the year 5072, humanity depleted Earth’s natural resources. Hardscrabble soil led to famine, and elevated regions became uninhabitable as oxygen levels continued to drop. When aquifers withered away, wealthy countries learned to melt the ice caps for drinkable water, but their overzealous efforts led to flooding that devastated island nations.
It wasn’t the apocalypse, but it was close. Scientists predicted a societal collapse within two centuries and the end of humanity within the millennium.
In a flurry of activity, world leaders instituted a program aimed at discovering a new habitable planet. Space shuttles launched into space, each equipped with a team of twenty. Each team was promised unimaginable wealth should they find a new planet on which humans could live.
The world leaders called this plan GoldSpace.
Although each GoldSpace ship contains twenty members, only five are awake at any one time. These five, known as the Actives, are placed into pods in the ship’s control room. These pods are filled with a kind of nutritional sludge that greatly reduces the process of aging. As a result, Actives could live for almost a century and a half, though they rarely do thanks to the dangerous natures of their jobs.
The remaining fifteen team members rest in similar pods in the back of the ship. In their pods, however, the sludge is thicker, more viscous, and in it resides a drug that brings the human body to a near standstill. In the Preservation Pods, humans can live for up to five hundred years before needing to be awoken.
The five roles in a GoldSpace pod belong to the Astronomer, Pilot, Technician, Biologist, and Rogue. The Astronomer serves as the ship’s captain, charting the course and managing the team’s morale. The Pilot navigates based on the Astronomer’s orders, and the Technician fixes the shuttle’s technology whenever it breaks. The Biologist examines bacteria, creatures, and soil samples so as to determine the viability of the planet to a human’s genome.
Finally, the Rogue: this recruit possesses a military background along with a basic understanding of biology. He visits the planets to acquire samples for the biologist, doing his best to survive what the environment dares to throw at him.
Each team of twenty follows the same plan for its backup. A prominent statistician calculated this plan according to the life expectancy of each job. All GoldSpace shuttles, therefore, hold two Captains, two Pilots, three Technicians, three Biologists, and ten Rogues.
Timeline before game:
5072: Scientists predict the a societal collapse within two centuries, and the end of humanity within the millennium.
5073: A coalition of governments around the world announce Valiant Explorer, a program dedicated to finding a new habitable planet. In exchange for their place on overcrowded Earth, aspiring explorers receive a small cash payment for their families and a place on a spaceship. When the committee announces that the team to find a new Earth will be rewarded with a lifetime of extravagant wealth, people take to calling the program Goldspace.
5078: Goldspace begins. An extraordinary number of people join the program.
5100: World-famous biologist Vita Van Hulle forms a crew and ascends into space. The media dubs Van Hulle’s ship the Lifefinder as an allusion to Vita’s interest in extraterrestrial life. (As of this year, no such life had ever been recorded.)
5113: Javornik Henderson, Norton Sloughter, Lev Marcus, Josea Gutierrez, Saratia Yunberg, and fifteen other crew members leave on Goldspace spaceship #600931. The first five awakened members decide to call their ship the Shining Diamond.
5133: Josea Gutierrez is awakened from stasis.
5168: Lev Marcus is awakened from stasis.
5173: The Lifefinder cuts off communication with other ships.
5190: Strange, powerful creatures begin attacking ships. They are vehicles of flesh, monsters the size of spaceships. As Goldspace vehicles have not been outfitted with weaponry (outside of a Rogue), these monsters wreak havoc. (These are the first race built by Vita Van Hulle.)
5192: Afraid of being slaughtered, thousands of Goldspace ships attempt to return home. Earth governments protest: each reentry breaks down Earth’s protective atmosphere, hastening catastrophe. Problems are developing faster than the world’s governments can resolve them, and smaller nations begin to fall.
5193: Goldspace recruitment numbers plummet and the program is paused as engineers design and implement weaponry for ships.
5195: Goldspace resumes.
5197: To prevent additional ships from returning home, the Great Divider of Earth is erected: a powerful laser shield that incinerates all objects moving towards Earth. In the five years between brainstorming, constructing, and implementing this solution, however, Earth has increased its descent into societal collapse and hastened its end.
5198: The communication system on The Shining Diamond breaks. From this point forward, they have no way of knowing what is happening outside of their ship.
5201: Another race of aliens appear. These ones seem less interested in combat, but are nonetheless hostile to humans and destroy many Goldspace vehicles. Goldspace teams are terrified. (Vita Van Hulle’s second race.)
5205: Although there were always crews that abandoned their duties, this becomes an epidemic. Calling themselves pirates, Goldspace members rob each other for additional weapons, energy cores, food, and sometimes even women. Some Goldspace ships raid for Technicians so they can make their ships as powerful as possible to fend off the aliens.
5208: Saratia Yunberg is awakened from stasis.
5210: Communication from Earth to the Goldspace vehicles comes to its end. Most assume the worst: that Earth has become a sprawling wasteland of chaos. They are correct.
5212: The Great Wall of Earth begins to flicker. Dozens of ships decide to take a chance and pass through its electric-riven remains. Most die, but a few return home – only to discover that the situation is as they feared: warlords control swathes of territories and people struggle to survive. The apocalypse happened while they were away.