Game Design: Embers of the Empire
Dan is creating a board game set in the Sellenria universe. Here he sets the stage for us.
Millenia after events in the first Sellenria books, humanity is awakening from a dark age. On long-separated worlds, people have stories, myths, and even a rare few authentic records of the Old Empire. It is said that humanity lived in peaceful cooperation with an elder race of aliens and that humans could travel vast distances in a single step using their portals.
Those portals are lost, but as interstellar starship travel becomes possible again, factions begin exploring, expanding, and learning about their past. It is here that the game begins.
In Sellenria, we rooted the vast majority of the science and technology in our current understanding of the cosmos. From interstellar travel to animals that operate like gas bags to the oversized moon in Sellenria's sky, the books are as scientifically plausible as we could make them.
Carrying this into the Embers game differentiates it from other "space empire" board and video games and creates some different challenges. Starships are expensive. Having a shooting war with large numbers of ships is not practical. A central government over more than a very few neighboring worlds is not an option, and expenses associated with expansion grow astronomically.
The defining aspects of the game are the wonder of exploring the unknown, accruing more sophistication and power over time, investigating mysteries, acquiring and allocating resources, and engaging in border skirmishes. A rich sense of place can be found on over thirty unique location cards, four distinct factions each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and at least 24 unique event cards and 35 scientific breakthroughs that can be acquired during the game.
But what of the "Old Empire," that semi-mythical golden age when humans and their alien allies ruled over hundreds of star systems? As in our books, history is often not what it seems!