At the furthermost tip of the Perseus arm of our galaxy burns a small white star. Here lie the remnants of the First Born, an advanced civilization that conquered the galaxy long ago and found that they were utterly alone. In despair they receded, and their great civilization was brought low by civil war. One war-like faction placed themselves into suspended animation and waited.
For millions of years they slept as the younger species took their first steps into space. But the sleep wasn’t dreamless and the First Born were slowly driven mad. Fanatical and paranoid, they have learned to fear and despise the new species that they once longed for.
Then the Traders turned up to pick over the bones of a long dead people, and the First Born were awoken…
Later in 2020 Battle Systems will be launching a new Kickstarter – Core Space: First Born. This new standalone starter set is designed for new and existing players alike, telling the story of a Trader crew venturing into the ancient First Born temples. If you haven’t read it already, check out our Future of Core Space article for an overview of all the new content. In this blog we’ll be focusing on the new starter set. Let’s hear about where it all began…
Colin: Core Space was always just the start of a much bigger adventure. With the Purge seemingly emanating from somewhere near the black hole at the centre of the galaxy it made sense to start the story of our intrepid traders right in the thick of it all. The risks were high, but equally so were the rewards. As such Core Space has so far been set in the Barrens, the less populated area around the black hole. As any regular player of Core Space will know the Purge are relentless so it’s inevitable that our Traders will take any opportunity to find somewhere less dangerous to salvage. As relentless as they are, the galaxy is a big place and it will take the Purge hundreds of years, maybe millennia, to purge it all.
So, when our traders find an area of space that before now would have taken most of a lifetime to get to, and that seems otherwise un-explored… well that’s got to be a safer bet, right?
The First Born
The First Born are an ancient race that lived for tens of thousands of years in harmony with nature. They evolved an advanced technology matched only by their wisdom. However, they never encountered another intelligent species and came to the conclusion that they were alone in the galaxy and, over time, their society faded and fell into ruin. Countless civil wars erupted and the old ways were forgotten. The harmony so long fought for was swept aside by fanatics and wisdom was replaced with madness.
Highest born of the First Born castes, in its somnolent stage a True Born is only partially conscious, as if in a dream or fugue state. It is protected by a Mantle draped around its neck that is able to attack and defend against intruders and even warp its immediate reality.
If left somnolent for too long nerve and brain damage will occur so the True Born must be revived by an attendant Liege. A fully conscious True Born is physically imposing, but its true power is in its ability to manipulate minds. The long sleep of stasis has a profound effect on the True Born – some suffer from mania when first awoken, others long term paranoia.
Colin: For the next instalment of the Core Space story I wanted something that could counterbalance the Purge threat. Not as vast and relentless, but far smaller and more potent. The idea of the First Born was, well… born.
It started with sketches of aliens. I always start with the characters. If they don’t look interesting and cool then it doesn’t matter who they are or where they come from. Also I find that adding the armour, weapons and tech tend to tell me where they come from and inform their story.
After a few sketches it was clear these new characters were going to be both ancient and wise, and also visually different in style from the general tech of the rest of the galaxy as we know it in Core Space. For this to make sense they had to be far away and as such I placed them at the very tip of the Perseus Arm.
So, why were they there and why have we not seem them before…? Wayne came back with the answer. Maybe they were woken up from a long sleep…
The design language of the characters was always clear in my head, but getting it on paper is always the challenge. I wanted scary, but wise… Strong and powerful, but lean and elegant… Ancient, but high tech… Weapons, but no guns as such… Ornamental and symbolistic, but also practical… This is always the constant battle with every character and the adornment you give them. With the design language you tend to lean on specific shapes to convey characters and objects. Squares are strong and reliable (think big trucks and heavy loaders, oxen), circles are often friendly and approachable, (think VW Beetle, baby faces, owls) and triangles convey speed, sharpness and danger, (think fighter jets, super cars, wolves and foxes). So keeping this in mind I subconsciously pulled in triangles to convey the speed and power, with some circles for counter balance for form to show the First Born are not just about offensive and aggressive mind-sets. I tried to stay away from squares so the feel of the characters was focused and not confusing.
The godly are a fanatical sect that thrived in the later years of the First Born empire and may well have been a major contributing factor to its eventual demise. They were militant and persecuted other First Born that they could not convert. They were superstitious and paranoid and eventually lost focus even within their own beliefs. Outlawed, they were driven out of First Born space and ended up in the Perseus-Orion arm of the galaxy where they hid themselves and waited. These are the First Born your Traders will encounter.
The Liege is both servant and confidante of the True Born and is a formidable power in its own right. It performs the duties of a True Born when the True Born is in stasis. Unlike the True Born in its permanent stasis the Liege is regularly awoken to oversee the sleeping First Born and perform general maintenance of the asteroid base. The Liege’s first duty is to revive the True Born from its somnolent stage. The Liege spend less time in stasis than the True Born and are nearly always lucid, rarely suffering from the derangement that the True Born do. It is from a slightly lower caste to the True Born.
The First Born live within the circumference of a Dyson Sphere. The Sphere orbits a small artificial star and directs power to the First Born. There are no planets or sizeable moons within the solar orbit, only an asteroid belt.
All of the First Born’s power is from their sun, converted primarily into plasma and directed to relays that then pass to each of the asteroids. The First Born have capacitive technology but they don’t store power to a high degree because their power source is constant.
By manipulating this constant power the First Born can move the entire solar system, essentially using it is as a spaceship. They move the entire system into a different part of space-time, and an unsuspecting world may suddenly see a new star in the night sky. In theory the same technology can be used for rudimentary time travel.
We’re really keen to take a step up with the miniatures this time. The original Core Space game contained our first ever miniatures, and although they were very well received we think we can do better. With the new range we’ve focused on lots of depth and detail as well as dynamic posing, but always with casting in mind – after all, these minis will be in plastic!
The Crew of the Eidolon
Core Space: First Born will have a brand new Trader crew in the box, ready to play through the new single-crew solo/co-op campaign.
We’re still keeping a good mix of humans, aliens, and machines, and we’re still making sure every character has a rich backstory and cool little details that make them unique. Like the First Born, we’re also taking a lot of care with the depth and detail of the miniatures to make our sci-fi world as immersive as possible, and to make it easier to paint them!
Name: Cassiopeia Peltier
Cassie has an ex-military background serving in the militia of her home world. After a short stint as a mercenary she stumbled across the Trader’s life and hasn’t looked back since. She served as support for a number of different Trader ships before leasing her own ship and assembling her own crew. Her combat suit is a remnant from her military service and gives her enhanced strength and speed and is equipped with shoulder mounted cannons similar to line rifles. She is a fair and equitable captain and doesn’t believe in taking unnecessary risks.
This is a Battle Systems project, of course it has terrain! However, with five different sci-fi styles already covered we needed something new and exciting, and I think Colin’s done it!
Colin: I’ve always loved games like the original Tomb Raider, the thought of treading ground lost for centuries or even millennia. Hidden temples and places of great design left unattended.
Like the characters the design pushed forward with triangles and circles, but I also had a very clear image of the hidden temple vibe I wanted to end up with. Overgrown, but not consumed. It had to feel familiar, but also not be polluted by standard galactic language. No black and yellow hazard tape, no girders or beams, no rivets or bolts, no wires, conduits, pipes, buttons, switches, panels, computer screens, etc. Well that was my normal go to supply of coolness out the window. So, I approached this with a view of what was necessary for the First Born. They are humanoid (mostly) and are ‘generally’ bound by our scientific laws. What do they still need then? … Doorways, controls of some kind, vents maybe, power sources, sleep chambers, storage and so on. With this in mind I started to form their environment. I placed it underground, and as Wayne developed the lore this ended up being the inside of asteroids, tethered to a massive Dyson Sphere.
The First Born inhabit the asteroid belt that orbits their sun. Thousands of the larger asteroids have been hollowed out, some contain crypts for the sleeping First Born, some are huge databases of collected lore, others are virtually cities where the First Born lived for hundreds of years before going into stasis.
The asteroids are made of a composite of rare minerals which were harvested and used by the First Born to power the habitats. Rather than use mechanical tools to form the walls, floors and ceilings of a desired space, the First Born used a programmable synthetic virus to restructure the rock on a molecular level, in a number of passes, each more sophisticated than the last. It would first carve the required shape of a room and then use the minerals found just under the surface to form pre-programmed three dimensional structures, from complex semi-organic nerve clusters down to simple iconography.
Over long periods of time the structures disentangle and the rock starts to slowly morph back to its original form. Many of the functions will therefore fail if not monitored and given enough time, the asteroids could, in theory, completely obliterate any trace of the First Born.
Colin: The process described above leaves the visual feel of the rock itself growing back. Hydroponics of old also inhabit the sleeping temples with an echo structure of dry vines. Although the First Born sleep for many millennia, the temples are kept in check by drones who clear blockages and repurpose any functional areas that are needed, just enough to keep the temples practical and to stop them being reclaimed completely by their original form. The final look lives up to my original vision of a temple-like tomb; ancient, alien and just begging to be uncovered and explored.
It’s not just the look and feel of the new terrain that’s different. You may expect a ‘reskinned’ version of the Cyberpunk set, but that’s not what we’ve done – this set has plenty of elements to make it unique. The walls are draped with vines, providing plenty of large Infestation-style struts. There are no windows at all; instead you’ll also find quarter-size wall panels and brand-new standalone pillars for more interesting layouts.
When it comes to scatter terrain you’ll find new multi-purpose reactors, exhaust vents, sleeping pods and a new cargo crate design. The new designs have also transitioned into the rules – the terrain will be more interactive in this game, doing far more than just providing cover and adding yet more immersion to the game. There won’t be as many crates in this new set either. Instead we’ve taken some elements of the item crafting rules from the Rogue Purge expansion so you’ll be able to mine the walls for minerals to make new equipment!
That’s all for now. We’ve got plenty to get on with, so we’ll be back to tell you more a little closer to launch!