Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Five Powers

In the galaxy there are five empires ranging from the powerful to the weak, the numerous to the few, the conniving to the naive, the treacherous to the unsuspecting.
--Starfleet Wars, p. 3
Commenting on my post with photos of my Aquarian ships, Porky asked the provenance of that species's name, wondering if the term was astronomical in origin.  His question made me realize not every reader will be familiar with the Starfleet Wars setting, so I will briefly discuss the background of the Five Powers--a quintet of sapient species, each with its distinctive starship design motif. 

Terran Federation starships are arrowhead-shaped, implying force in a certain direction.  Vessels of the Aquarian Alliance are bulbous and smooth, befitting their watery origin.  Avarian United Words spacecraft sport delicate, necklike projections from a wide body, ending in beaked prows.  Carnivoran Republic ships are muscular in appearance, either squat or lean, conveying the impression of a predator.  Spaceships of the Entomalian Enpire are jagged and asymmetrical, suggesting an organic construction process.

According to the Starfleet Wars rulebook, the two main players in the SfW galaxy are the Terrans and the Entomalians, who have been "vying for control of the galaxy for several centuries."  Three other species share the galactic stage.  The Avarians have the most powerful ships, while the Aquarians have the fewest, and the Carnivores are "a race of vicious barbarians."  The Directory & Identification Manual offers more details on each of the Five Powers.

TERRAN FEDERATION: According to the Observer's Directory & Identification Manual, humanity's home planet endured a nuclear war in 1987.  (You think I'd remember something like that!)  Not too long after that, the Entomalian massacre took place.  The book tells us the Avarians contributed a great deal to the restoration of the planet, but the Terrans' crucial cities and factories moved to Mars and the Moon, where the "first primitive intergalactic battlefleet was constructed."  The SfW rules describe the Terran fleets as "relatively numerous, well armed and well protected. ... The Terran Federation has been intact for centuries and has always managed to defend its territories."

ENTOMALIAN EMPIRE: As their name implies, the Entomalians are an insectoid species with three castes: workers, warriors, and rulers, that exist in "a continuous state of war,"  the ID Manual tells us.  The Entomalians live on jungle planets, burrowing deep underground.  These four-armed, two-legged sophonts possess exoskeletons, breathe through pores in their thorax, and are slightly slower than humans.  The SfW rulebook states their military is not as well developed as the humans' but is far more numerous.  The Ents use their numbers to box in foes and destroy them with firepower from all directions.

AVARIAN UNITED WORLDS: This birdlike species evolved on an arid world with a surface gravity lighter than that of Earth, the ID Manual notes.  Avarians have hollow bones and are slightly smaller than humans, with a correspondingly faster metabolism.  They dwell in cities built atop stiltlike towers, separated by large tracts of irrigated agricultural land.  As the SfW book states, Avarians use diplomacy to achieve the territorial expansion their lack of numbers would otherwise inhibit.  The rulebook also notes the Avarians' vessels are individually the "most powerful ships in existence."

AQUARIAN ALLIANCE: These amphibians inhabit the equatorial oceans of their homeworlds, according to the ID Manual, usually at 70 meters or below.  Aquarians use organs similar to the gills of terrestrial fish to filter oxygen from seawater, and these organs can also remove atmospheric toxins.  The current monarchy ruling the Alliance has been in power for fourteen generations.  The Starfleet Wars rulebook informs us the Aquarians prefer to fight from a distance behind their defensive shielding.  The Aquarian Alliance is also the only one of the Five Powers that equips its starships with an invisibility shield.

CARNIVORAN REPUBLIC: The ID Manual portrays Carnivores as muscular and long-winded, thanks to the barren environment of their home planet.  The various city-states of this species engage in constant conflict; ground engagements usually being fought with stun pistol and energy axe.  According to the SfW rules, the Carnivores prefer close-range space combat as well; they use their energy damping beams to neutralize enemies' long-range weaponry so the Carnivores can close in for the kill.


Porky said...

Thanks! It's always good to get a look into other games.

This one must be getting on a little if the end of the world came in 1987, but credit is due for the ideas not seeming out of place in 2010. They naming might seem simplistic, but it's not unreasonable if there is little or no contact between the civilisations and no way of understanding the other languages or translating between them.

I'm pleased to see 'sophont' used here too. I think this word has a bright future, but it's barely used at the moment.

This is a good resource and starting point for anyone interested. It might have search engines directing visitors here, especially if the game is not so widely discussed these days.

Desert Scribe said...

Thanks, Porkster! Regarding the naming, I consider this to be what the Terrans call everyone else, not how each species refers to itself, just like the starship class names are Terran designations similar to the NATO recognition names for Soviet aircraft (Bear, Blackjack, Flanker, etc.).

Glad you like the term sophont. I picked it up reading Vernor Vinge, an SF author I highly recommend.

I hope my blog becomes a go-to site for Starfleet Wars fans, and I will post more on this game in the future.

Thanks again for stopping by; I appreciate your feedback!

Dan Eastwood said...

Thanks for the summary! I have just a few Carnivoran miniatures I picked up a few years back (I'll post pics), but I know almost nothing about the game.

What is the relation between Starfleet Wars and Galactic Knights? Is this the same game under two names, two games with the same miniatures line, or am I just confused?

Desert Scribe said...

SfW and GK are two different games using the same line of miniatures. Monday Knight Production acquired the rights to the minis after Superior Models folded. Because they didn't have a copy of the original rules, they came up with their own.

For more details, see this earlier blog post:

Dan Eastwood said...

Thanks for bringing me up to speed!

Chip Monk said...

I've really been enjoying your retro look at this old game system. I look forward to following your blog in the future. :)

Desert Scribe said...

Thanks, Chip, and welcome aboard the Dreadnought! I'm curious, do you play Starfleet Wars?