History

Precursors

Little is known of the context for the Precursors. They lived at higher temperatures, and they rose and fell before any of us developed language. Their strange technology supported interstellar invasion, and their vast military empire eventually ruled more than half a billion cubic lightyears, with much more explored, leaving ruins and relics all over.

They were generally characterized by ephemeral design; even their superscience force fields were sometimes used as structural elements, and even the most intact ruins are inscrutable. Almost none of their records survive. However, we major species are united by the recovery of a Precursor technology: the stardrive.

Rise Of The Governance Providers

In a time when all the major species(and many minors) had interstellar colonies via near-light travel, one corporation managed to reproduce Precursor stardrive, and espionage rapidly put it in the hands of several others. An economic war followed, too quickly for the records of the time to keep up; travel times suddenly dropped from years to days. Indeed, very little did keep up, and the governments of the time were rapidly swept aside. Each of the corporations that came out of that war had to fill that role for its people, becoming what today we call governance providers.

Politics

The situation is in some ways utopian; government is considered a service, and oppression is all but unthinkable since you can simply subscribe to another instead - or cancel your subscription. Making war on a planet is impractical, so warfare takes the form of economic competition.

The reality is not so rosy. Subscription fees are heavy, going without governance means aggressive exploitation without a legal system, and economic war still has casualties. Still, no provider is able to impose crippling fees, and it is a post-scarcity economy.

The Governance Providers

Allied Industries

A merger of three of the original providers, "Allied" cultivates a no-nonsense focus on the bottom line. Its laws are simple(perhaps to a fault), but the appeal of its impressively-low prices is undeniable. Culturally, it remains something of a cypher, valuing bland acceptability.

Augmented Tactical Services Interstellar

Aiming itself squarely at the average joe, "ATSI"(@tsy) tries to balance a friendly face with low prices. The result is a bit slipshod, with support personnel forever patching the rules, which interacts with the general attitude of neophilia. The xenophobia can be a problem, and personal prejudice generally falls between the cracks.

Commonwealth Active Services

Marketing itself as an elite choice for those who can afford its assistance, "the CAS"(kass) is a full-service provider. Friendly assistance is available for all sorts of things, and its basic social services are extensive. Subscription is correspondingly pricey. Culturally, it's formal and vaguely stuffy, and tries to support neophiles and neophobes alike with attention to "face" and extensive freedom in private.

Independent Port Authority

Holding few worlds but with many subscribers on other providers' worlds, "the IPA" is cosmopolitan. Its people often serve as merchants and other economic middlemen, and it maintains some neophilia and xenophilia. Its laws are generally well-crafted, but designed to be nonintrusive and generic - corner cases may fester. It does keep prices low, however.

New Century Elective

An elite option more reserved than the CAS, "NCE" is neophobic and xenophobic… but for that combination, it has the best-crafted laws of any provider. Undeniably, things run smoothly under NCE. Price and adaptability are secondary concerns.

Sovereign Frontiers

Having changed very little since acquiring stardrive, "the Sov" is a xenophilic melting pot, marketing itself as an alternative to the larger governance providers. It prefers distributed populations, embracing asteroid belts instead of planets, and correspondingly lacks the numbers of the others. It remains almost neophobic, issuing regional exceptions to its laws, and making actual changes slowly. But at least it's cheap.

Space Pirates And Governance

Since space pirates are necessarily operating in violation of the relevant laws, they won't be subscribed with any governance provider. Nevertheless, each space pirate certainly has a relationship to a provider.

Rules

Stardrives are TL5+5^.

A lesser level of Unusual Biochemistry is effectively a campaign disad; all the major species are this different from each other, but medical training normally includes all of them.

Ammonia and Hydrocarbon are both considered planet types for skill purposes. Riss and other Sihensha life are considered "between" them, allowing either at -4; Biology(Sihensha) is also available, which applies to Sihensha's life without penalty, and to Ammonia and Hydrocarbon life at -4. Geology, Meteorology, and Geography(Physical) use the Ammonia type for Sihensha.

Similarly, the physiology modifiers are -6 for life that's alien but of the same world type, -8 for life of a different world type(but still chemical), and Sihensha life is -7 to and from Ammonia and Hydrocarbon life.

Psychology modifiers among the major species are generally -2, due to cultural exchange.

The languages of the major species have also had some time to blend, though the borrowings can be even more confusing. Each species has its own Linguistics specialty, and those of the major species default to each other at -8. Linguistics(Comparative) defaults to and from major species' specialties at -4. Mayango, the trade language, is considered to fall under Linguistics(Comparative) for this purpose.

Erotic Art and Hypnotism require specialization by species, with no default between them. Erotic Art is likely to take penalties when used by another species.

Gear

Three personal weapon types are common: grasers, FELs, and pulsars. Grasers and pulsars are as in Ultra-Tech; hotshotting is commonly available, and pulse and beam/pulse grasers and FELs are reasonably available.

Personal armor is normally energy cloth(UT174, energy tacsuit on UT178, and energy vacc suit on UT179), but hard armor is also available(UT176, UT180).

FELs

WeaponDamageAccRangeWtROFShotsSTBulkRclCostLC
Beam Weapons: Pistol
Holdout FEL Pistol2d+3100/300.8/B10176(3)4-211 500$3
Medium FEL Pistol3d+6200/6003/C10264(3)5-315 500$3
Heavy FEL Pistol4d+6300/9006.75/2C10448(3)7-3112 000$3
Beam Weapons: Rifle
Underbarrel FEL4d+6300/9002.5/C10224(3)----17 400$2
FEL Carbine5d+12500/1 50012.5/2C10224(3)6†-4122 100$2
FEL Rifle6d+12700/2 10020/Dp10664(5)8†-5140 000$2
Light Gatling FEL5d+12500/1 50023/Dp41120(3)9M-5144 200$2
Dinosaur FEL8d+121 300/3 90047.5/Dp1280(5)11†-6171 000$1
Gunner: Beams
Semi-Portable FEL12d+183 K/9 K175/Ep10800(5)20M-81325 000$1
Strike FEL6d×5+1818 K/54 K2 500/Fp1528(5)70M-1012 500 000$1
FEL Cannon6d×10+1872 K/220 K20 000/10Fp1664(5)200M-10120 000 000$1

It takes a Ready maneuver to change settings.

IR
Consumes 1 shot per shot. Damage is (2) burn. Base range in air and space, 0/1yd in water.
Aqua
Consumes 2 shots per shot. Damage is (2) burn. ×2 range in air and space, max range through average water is 60yd.
UV
Consumes 4 shots per shot. Damage is (2) burn. ×3 range in space, max range through 1atm is 500yd, 0/1yd in water.
X
Consumes 4 shots per shot. Damage is (5) burn sur. ×100 range in space, 7yd/20yd in 1atm, 0/0 in water.
Gamma
Consumes 8 shots per shot. Damage is (10) burn sur. ×300 range in space, 70yd/200yd in 1atm, 0/0 in water.

The above are beam laser settings. A pulse laser has the following settings; a beam/pulse laser(+100% cost) has both groups.

IR
Consumes 1 shot per shot. Damage is cr ex. ×2 range in air and space, 0/1yd in water.
Aqua
Consumes 2 shots per shot. Damage is cr ex. ×4 range in air and space, max range through average water is 60yd.
UV
Consumes 4 shots per shot. Damage is cr ex. ×6 range in space, max range through 1atm is 500yd, 0/1yd in water.
X
Consumes 4 shots per shot. Damage is (3) cr ex sur. ×200 range in space, 7yd/20yd in 1atm, 0/0 in water.
Gamma
Consumes 8 shots per shot. Damage is (5) cr ex sur. ×600 range in space, 70yd/200yd in 1atm, 0/0 in water.

The following settings are also available.

Dazzle
Negligible energy consumption. Damage is HT-5 Blindness Affliction, see p113, Ultra-Tech. Normally used in aqua frequency. (+10% cost.)
Blind
Consumes 1/10 as much as normal for the frequency. Damage is HT-10 crippling Blindness Affliction, see p113, Ultra-Tech. (+10% cost.)
White
Consumes 4 shots per shot. For a beam FEL(or beam/pulse FEL in white beam mode), damage is (3) burn(or just burn in space). ×3 range in air, ×3/10 range in space, 1yd/3yd in water. For a pulse FEL(or beam/pulse FEL in white pulse mode), damage is (2) burn(or (½) burn in space). ×6 range in air, ×6/10 range in space, 1yd/3yd in water. (+20% cost.)
Stat
Consumes 3 shots per shot. Damage is FP sur. ×3/10 range in air, 0/1yd in water. ×2/3 Acc. (+20% cost.)