Game Faq

Frequently Asked Questions about Shattered Spheres

Table of Contents


What is Science-Fiction?

If we define "Fantasy" as fiction placed in a setting that is divergent from the reality the writer inhabits, then "Science Fiction" is that class of "Fantasy" where this divergence is the result of a rational extrapolation or a change in the writer's own reality. In other words, while one cannot look at our own world and see a plausible way to make Elves and Talking Trees, there is a plausible outcome in which humanity roams the stars in ships and settles multiple planets.

The foundation of most Science Fiction is a sense of change, of a different world, coupled with a rational attitude. Most Science Fiction appeals to reason and logic, rather than mysticism. Science Fiction paradigms are logical constructions with understandable environments. The world is assumed to behave by knowable (if not known) and discoverable (if not discovered) laws and concepts.

What is Role-Playing?

In the shortest, most base form, Role-playing is interactive fiction. When you write a short story, that is not Role-Playing, that is writing a story. However, when you and your friend get together and together craft a story, each of you taking different parts, that is a form of Role-Playing. When you played cops and robbers as a child, shooting at your friend and taking him in to custody, that was Role-Playing.

Shattered Spheres is a game of interactive fiction, in which we all take the role of our given star nations, set in a consistent universe provided by the Administrative Staff. We play out our roles on the Forums, in Email or on Instant Messenger. We share our Role-Play with the community to create a greater story than we could ever create on our own; a living, breathing universe.

Why the complex rules?

Even though Shattered Spheres is a 'make pretend' Role-Playing game, we have a fairly complex set of rules. This is because, as children, when we played Cops and Robbers, there was always the neighborhood punk who refused to lie down and play dead when we pointed fingers at him and said 'Bang!'. He would shout out 'Missed me!' or 'Bullet Proof Vest!' or other such 'rational' as to why he was not bound by the consensual reality of the game you were playing.

The System serves to allow you to interact with the other star nations and players on an even playing field, free from the need to worry if the other player will 'allow' you to act in the way your nation will act.

Why should I post my stuff to the forums? (I want to be sneaky!)

Invariably, people want to do things sneaky-like. They don't want necessarily, the game at large to read about them. While some things should remain secret (Like your turn orders), the rest is what we are here to do. Being super secret and sneaky should be Role-Played out. Write little stories about how your people are doing sneaky things and post them.

Silence however, is not sneaky. It's boring and inactive.


How many star-systems are in the game?

Currently, there are 165 different star systems in the game. This number may fluctuate based on player action or administrative-need.

Does the Sphere have Aliens? (Can I be an Alien?)

Yes. Aliens exist in the theme of the game. They can be played as a race, but they must be significantly different, both in culture and physiology than humans. They are usually seen as second class people, feared and loathed.

Does the Sphere have Psi Powers? (Can I be Psychic?)

Yes and no. Yes, Psi powers exist in the theme, but they are -not- for players to Role-Play having as elements of their society. They will come, if they do, in the course of the game. Technology that simulates psi powers is likewise unavailable without direct approval from staff. This includes neural networks or reading electrical impulses in the brain to simulate 'reading thoughts'.

I can has some alien ruins?

Sure. Alien Ruins are fairly common. The Precursor races were wide spread before fading in to obscurity and disappearing roughly 20,000 years before the rise of man. They exist on nearly every planet, though only a few planets have major collections (Such as Halo or Rune, though Sol 3 is said to be the most extensive collection known). These artifacts are mostly architectural in context, unknowable mysteries such as the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China.


What is a Manifold?

A manifold is an alien artifact that allows for travel between star systems. They are massive, easily the size of small moons and are found only at the furthest reaches of a Solar System.

What does a Manifold look like?

A Manifold is an immense torus made of highly-advanced materials. It looks like a giant hoop in space. When activated, a point of energy appears in the center of the torus and energy begins arching outward from the center to the torus itself. Eventually an image appears on the solar side of the Manifold, showing the destination system as it appears from the center of the destination Manifold. It is as if looking through a window in the space-time continuum at the other star system. On the "back" side of the Manifold, the center of the torus is filled with energy radiating from the central point.

Is there a "front" to the Manifold?

Yes, only the solar side opening of the Manifold can be used for intersystem travel. You can go through from the "back", but you'll just end up on the other side in the same system. It's probably not a good idea to go in the back way while the Manifold is active.

Who or what built the Manifolds?

The Manifolds were built by a precursor race that has no direct name ascribed to them. They are called the Elders, the Precursors, the Pre-adamites, the Chasers and so forth. There appear to be two or more precursor races, based on differences in technology and architecture. On several planets, monoliths have been found that seem to depict the Elders in physical form. They seem to retain a humanoid form but have alternately smooth, benevolent faces or horrible, spiney and befanged features. These monoliths do not appear to have been built by the Precursors but rather by local native races.

How do Manifolds Work?

That is Spacer Guild proprietary information. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you, eject you from the game and ban you from the internets.

Why did the Manifolds turn off?

No body really knows that yet. Well, some people do, but no one is talking. It's a mystery that may be solved in game.

What are the Manifolds for?

Well, Humans use them for interstellar travel. As to the Architects view of things? Who knows. Intergalactic waste collection, perhaps.

How long does it take to pass through a Manifold?

This is a difficult question to answer. People and even ship chronometers disagree. However, times are usually between a tenth of a second and 10 seconds, so the trips are very quick.

What can pass through the Manifold?

There are two requirements for traveling through a Manifold: will and guidance. Scientists are not exactly sure why, but to pass through a manifold requires an intellect driving the object, whatever it is, through the Manifold. Experiments have shown that artificial intelligence is sufficient to cause ships to travel through the Manifold. However, tests with non-sentient forms of life have failed. Those vessels simply pass through the Manifold opening and come out on the other side in the same system.

What about communications signals?

Nope. Sending messages through the Manifold requires a ship carry them across the threshold. The Spacers Guild performs this service for most messages, though highly sensitive communications might need special handling.

Can I change course on Manifold Routes? That is, can I turn off of one route and onto another? (Ex. If I was heading from Goodtimes to Touchdown, could I turn mid-way and head towards Ionia?)

No. The Manifold routes are not 'roads' in the normal sense of the word. In fact, it's better not to think of them as roads, but more like a catcher's mitt and hand. You're not 'driving' and 'stopping' on the Manifold routes, you're being 'thrown' and 'caught'. Additionally, Manifolds open unidirectionally. If the Manifold is opened from one end, a ship on the other end cannot travel through the Manifold to the end that it was opened from. It must wait for it to be closed, then reopen it from its own end.

Chicken or the Egg?

The Question is: If you use the Manifolds to cross interstellar space, and FTL is not possible, how did the gates get there in the first place?

The Answer is: Damn good question. Maybe it will be revealed in the course of the game!

Is it possible to disable or destroy a Manifold?

It is theoretically possible, but would likely be a very bad idea. In addition to upsetting those that rely on the Manifold for their livelihood, many scientists theorize the collapse of a single Manifold could bring down the entire system. One theory about the failure of the Manifolds during the Sundering is that one of the Manifolds was damaged or possibly destroyed.

Manifolds and the Spacers Guild

What does the Spacers Guild have to do with the Manifolds?

The Republic has charged the Spacers Guild with operating the Manifolds in all systems for the good of humankind. The Guild arranges the schedule for the Manifolds, powers and maintains them, and defends them from attack and rogue objects. The area of 1 AU (the distance from the Earth to Sol) around each Manifold is considered sovereign space of the Guild, and not of the owner of the system. The Guild charges a fee for using the Manifolds to each ship that passes through. Ships that travel the Manifolds regularly can set up for an account with the Guild to allow for quick and easy passage through the Manifolds. The fees collected from passing ships are used to cover the costs of maintaining the Manifold network.

What kind of presence does the Guild have at each individual Manifold?

It depends on the size of the system and the traffic density at the Manifold, but the Guild typically has a space station orbiting the Manifold for administrative purposes, as well as providing fueling facilities (with fairly reasonable prices). Additionally, the Guild has one or more patrol craft charged with maintaining order at the Manifold, and one or more weapons platforms with mass drivers "to keep space junk away".

Will the Guild let my nation do research on the Manifolds?

Sure, when hell freezes over.

Are members of the Guild the only ones who know how to operate the Manifolds?

No, knowledge of their basic operation is relatively simple and fairly widely available. Much beyond that, however, is privileged info for the Guild, or else no one knows.

What kind of schedule does the Guild maintain for the Manifolds?

Each Manifold is opened to one destination system once every 22-26 hours. The system to which it is pointed is determined by a rotation. The Manifold remains open only one hour, then is shut down to allow the Manifolds on the other end to send ships through. In heavily trafficked systems with many manifolds, such as the Sol system, this can create long lines as a path to a particular system may only be opened once in about a week.


What is technology in Fracta Passium like?

The feel of Fracta Passium is one of just barely emerging from the Dark Ages of space travel. Ships are boxy, clunky. There is no Starfleet with sleek lines, no phasers, no transporters, no advanced high technology. We are, as a whole, roughly equal to Battlestar Galactica (The New Show) or Firefly in terms of overall feel and tech level. Utilitarian, with function over form. Advanced Cyberware is rare and cannot be applied on a national level in the most cases.

Soldiers tend to be marines with flack jackets and assault rifles, not Space Marines from Games WorkShop. All FTL travel is done through the Manifolds. No interstellar communication is available and inter-system communication takes place at radio/lightspeed, therefor it can take up to 30 minutes to bounce signals from the Manifold to the primary inhabited planet of any system. This is not a world of instantaneous anything.

Exceptions can and will be made, but you must be ready and willing to accept a 'no' answer.

Can I have a Phaser-maser-bo-bazer-banana-fana-fo-Baser on all my ships? (Advanced High Tech)

No. The reason for this is a level playing field. We are just reaching back to the stars. Technology is very basic and amounts to strapping artillery guns to ancient warships. Technology is available in the game and researchable, so if you want the PMBBBFFB, you will need to work for it.

But the PMBBBFFB is really very technologically simple! (Citing 'real world' examples)

No. This is both an IC issue where your argument may work, and an OOC issue, where it simply holds no water. The players start on the same rough level. As a result, you, just like everyone else, get guns and missiles. No Energy weapons. No Shields. No warp speed or FTL, no Picard Maneuver.

Why do I have to send ships through the manifold? Doesn't the Spacing Guild have some sort of communications network?

The Spacing Guild does in fact, have a communications network. It's made of ships. Radio signals do not travel through the manifolds, only vessels with sentient pilots. As such, the communications network is a relay between ships.

Factions both Major, Minor and Trivial

What is a Major Faction?

A major faction is one of 15 factions that are the major powers, the super powers, the movers and shakers of the Manifold Grid. These are controlled by players, not staff and tend to be fairly unpredictable. They are the basis of the game. These are the star-empires that grow, that contract, that change and develop over time.

These players must submit turn-reports monthly and are held to a rigorous set of requirements for activity, both in the wiki and in posting. Major factions have full faction-sheets, consisting of assets, resources, boons, hindrances and other such considerations.

What is a Minor Faction?

A minor faction is a supporting role in Fracta Passium. They are independent worlds, powerful guilds and other such things.These factions are not required to submit turn reports and their posting requirements are relaxed. Minor factions can be upgraded to major as space becomes available, provided there is good rationale and good history of player-activity.

Minor Factions have a unique set of boons that can be granted to allies and also a unique set of hindrances that can be inflicted on enemies.

What is a Trivial Faction?

Trivial factions are the lowest rung of power, existing mostly as backdrops. They are not generally controlled by players and are used by staff to reward good roleplaying, to flesh out the universe and to reflect changes in the universe. Trivial Faction support can grant anything from extra assistance in certain areas of research to more powerful unknown effects. Trivial factions represent corporations, occult organizations, terrorist groups, resistance cells. their scope is generally small, a single world or single concepts.

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