The Way of Things

The Earth-That-Was got all used up almost five hundred years ago. Billions of folk left the planet on generational starships to find a new system, leaving Sol, Luna, Mars, and all the other planets and moons behind. These folk travelled far across the black to create a new home for themselves. The first worlds humanity terraformed and colonized are located in the Core—a group of centrally located planets that united to form the Alliance. From the Core, folk spread to the frontier of nearby systems. Many of the surrounding Border Planets do a heap of lucrative business with their wealthier neighbors. Other worlds, like those on the Rim, fend for themselves.

Exodus

Once the exodus of mankind had begun, the close quarters and difficult survival conditions in space broke down traditional barriers of language and culture. After a full generation had lived and died in the massive convoy of ships slowly trudging from star to star, the average person was at least bi-lingual and had a very multicultural outlook. A person’s ethnicity became far less important than competence and character.

Thus many generations later, the children of Earth-That-Was don’t think much back to the days of colonization, but continue the legacy by their almost universal fluency in both English and Chinese. Most folk are bilingual, regardless of where you travel in the ’Verse. If ’n you speak Mandarin or English, you’ll be able to get your message across. Faiths are widely varied. Christian and Buddhist faiths boast the most believers in well-populated areas. Smaller communities tend to have their own customs and beliefs, growing out of one settler’s vision or a group’s pledge to live apart.

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The Unification War

A few years ago, the Alliance threw its weight around and demanded all other planets should fall under their rule. Not everybody agreed. Some who didn’t fought against them in the Unification War. Like any war, it was a bloody conflict and a lot of folk died on both sides.

The FIREFLY RPG Echoes of War is based six years after the Unification War. It explores the lives of people who now make a living on the outskirts of society, as part of the pioneer culture that exists on the fringes of their star system.

The central planets are firmly under Alliance control, but the outlying planets and moons have relative freedom from the central government at the cost of the amenities of the high-tech civilization that exists within. In addition, the outlying areas of space are inhabited by the Reavers, a cannibalistic group of nomadic humans that have become savage and animalistic. The Reavers live on the edge of the human-controlled binary solar systems, rarely venturing deep into occupied space. As a result, most of inner worlds and many Alliance officials believe them to be myths made to cover for violent criminals.

The Here and Now

At least on the surface, life has returned to normal. In truth, no one has forgotten and few have forgiven. The Alliance now has jurisdiction over every inhabited planet in the system. The Alliance does not fully control everything within its far flung territory. In reality, the Alliance only has full control over the Core planets. On these worlds, the eyes of the Alliance are everywhere. Federal police can be called at a moment’s notice, and cameras record every citizen’s every move. The Core worlds have the best comforts that money can buy. However, every citizen pays for such security and comfort at the expense of much of their freedom.

The outer planets were meant to be kept under the same level of strict control, but the Alliance is short on manpower and ships. They just don’t have enough people to keep a proper eye on things. They hire security firms to help enforce their laws and maintain order. And they send their hulking patrol ships out to remind everyone who is in charge.

Still, the cracks in the system are large enough for folk to fly a Firefly-class ship through. Slavery for example, although outlawed by the Alliance government, exists as something of an open secret among terraforming companies, mine owners and the wealthy on the Rim. Every so often, the Alliance will bust one of these owners and free the slaves because it looks good in the media from a public relations point of view, but then it’s back to business as usual. It is the same with indentured servants. Indentured servitude is also not legal, but most people on the Border planets accept it as a way of life. If a person is desperate for the money and they have nothing to offer up as collateral except themselves, then that is what they will do.

And that, folks, is the way of things.

The Way of Things

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