Elite Force Delta Cep


Overall Tech Level

The technology of Elite Force Delta Cep is that of an advanced space opera sort of game. Personal sidearms are blasters. There is powered armor, but no personal shields. Force swords do exist, but they tend to be esoteric weapons that require a lot of specialized training. Spaceships come in high-performance (high acceleration) fighters, and in larger behemoths. They fly in system with reactionless drives (slower than light) and between systems using a combination of warp drives and jump drives. In general, most of the equipment in Fudge Space Opera can be assumed to exist.

While the two human governments are on this tech level— at least, in the propserous parts of both societies— the alien Ilshani Domination is known to have higher and strange technology in some levels. There are some exceptions, such as the protected world of Monolith in the Phoenix Federation, which has a human society at a medieval level of technology.

Because this is intended to be a cinematic, space opera sort of game, people are still people, just like in Star Wars. They have not modified themselves unrecognizably (cf: Eon by Greg Bear, or Transhuman Space), but are rather ordinary folks like ourselves, who happen to have a whole lot of really high tech toys to play with. Even if you consider this implausible, it can still make for an entertaining setting for a cinematic roleplaying game. You may think that it's a sell-out, that it's not real science fiction if one doesn't attempt to realistically explore the implications of this technology. But, the setting that I want for this game is a cinematic space opera sort of game with lots of cool gadgets, and people whom we can fairly readily identify with. For an in-game rationali... er, explanation, see Why Humans are Human below.


Contragravity is a superscience technology present in the Phoenix sector. Contragravity devices are bulky, so you don't have things like personal contragrav flight packs. If you want to fly, you still have to get into a vehicle to do it. (Or grow wings; see Biotechnology below.) One thing contragrav technology has made stylish is levitating buildings. Particularly on peaceful major or wealthy worlds, the more upscale buildings may be hovering in the air ten feet, twenty feet, fifty feet, or perhaps higher. Naturally, those buildings of this nature which were designed wisely have multiply redundant backup systems, and redundant internal completely self-contained power plants. It would be a disaster if a levitating building were suddenly to lose its contragrav generators.

(Game mechaics: contragrav generators have a weight of (lift/1000)+200 lbs. Cost is as per TL13 in Vehicles/2e.)

Biotech and Cybernetics

A vast array of impressive biotechnology and cybernetic technology is available. People are able to modify (and improve) themselves, create subspecies adapted for certain environments, create "bioroids" and genetically engineered pets and work animals, etc. While the social implications of this sort of technology is the basis for some very thoughtful science fiction, this game is very cavalier about all of that; for a handwaving explanation, see Why Humans are Human below.

Why Humans are Human

There is no convincing technological reason as to why humans haven't biologically and cybernetically modified themselves beyond all recognition. Indeed, there are probably sectors of space where most humans have become strange, genetically engineered offshoots of the original human species. The Phoenix Sector is not one of those sectors. Except for a handful of planets where the main occupants are "parahumans," variant human races which have been genetically engineered for the environment, most of the humans in the Phoenix sector would be recognizably human to the people of today. The reasons are primarily political and social.

In the Phoenix Federation, for the most part, biological modifications are legal. However, there is political pressure which is increasingly making the more drastic of those modifications less and less popular. The political party known as the Human League has been gaining in influence and sympathy; this party is focused primarily on legislation that would end human genetic manipulation. Party members range from luddites afraid of the technology, to those deeply concerned with the ethical implications, to those who argue rationally that humans making modifications that look good over the course of tens or even hundreds of years simply do not have the perspective or wisdom to tamper with what's been developed by millions of years of evolution and natural selection.

While the Human League has helped to make overt biological modifications less socially acceptable, by and large overt and excessive biological modifications are already somewhat unfashionable. It is usually viewed socially as evidence that you are uncomfortable with being yourself if you perform a lot of overt and flashy biological modifications to yourself. Using too much gengineering to improve your abilities is seen as "cheating," much as using steroids today rather than building muscles "honestly the hard way" is seen as "cheating" (and also rather dangerous).

The attitudes about cyberwear are similar. It's seen as a little bit crass in polite socity to be loaded down with bionic replacements. Moreover, most people who've done it claim that cybernetic limbs just don't "feel as good" as the real thing.

Naturally, some biomods and cyberwear are seen as perfectly normal, and don't have any social stigma to them. Indeed, even members of the Human League ironically don't object to certain "mainstream" procedures. Cosmetic changes, such as changing the color of your skin, biosculpting to change the strucuture of your face, or even changing the tembre of your voice is usually viewed with no more derision than the wearing of a lot of makeup is in today's world. Medical procedures, either to repair or replace malfunctioning organs, or to replace missing limbs, are considered normal. (In these cases, the patient usually has a choice of natural or cybernetic replacements; the former is more popular.)

In the Phoenix Domain, radical biomodification and cyberwear is equally unfashionable, but for entirely different reasons. Such enhancements are illegal for commoners; there is a black market that will perform such modifications, but if you are caught, the penalty for having had such procedures performed upon yourself is usually death. While the laws state that commoners are not worthy of such procedures, the real reason is that the nobility is scared of the commoners using such technology to rebel against the rigid hierarchy of Domain society.

Interestingly, among the noble casts, biomods and cybernetic enhancements are similarly rare. Despite centuries of science which might call this into question, Domain society still consideres "noble blood" to be a different substance than commoner blood. Performing biological modifications to yourself is considered an admission of weakness. What's more, it reflects poorly on your entire family. If a member of a family feels the need to enhance himself, then perhaps that family's genetics simply aren't good enough....

Biomods and Cyberwear

Aside from the cosmetic and medical biomods and cyberwear mentioned above, in the Federation it is possible and legal (for now) to have other modifications performed on yourself. Particularly in the underwold, modifications that enhance your senses, or give you (for instance) greater arm strength, are not terribly uncommon. (In game terms, you must pay full character points as well as cash for any modifications you have.)

Although many soldiers try to get by with superior equipment (vehicles, support battlecomps, battlesuits, etc.), some classes of soldiers (particularly in the Phoenix Domain) are subject to fairly extensive biomods to make them deadlier and more efficient. Frequently, this ends up having serious psychological side effects on the modified soldier.

The Ilshani Domination takes this to extreme; most of their warriors are clones of the one ideal soldier. It is in reaction to this that the D'ken embrace the Federation attitude that extreme biomodifications are not socially acceptable.

Life Insurance

One of the happy consequences of biotechnology, to which only the most extreme of the Human League would object, is life insurance that really insures life. Anybody who can afford it (most Federation citizens on major worlds, and most of the nobility in the Domain) can have a braintape made. Usually braintapes are updated at regular intervals (every six months or every year, for instance). If somebody dies, then his life insurance company will force-grow a new clone from genetic material kept on ice. This will take a few to several weeks; at the end of that time, the braintape will be played into the clone, and voila, instant resurrection (minus your most recent memories; consider it an opportunity for a redo). The particularly wealthy can keep a full grown clone on ice, so that it won't take weeks to get them on their feet again.

The largest life insurance company in the Phoenix Federation is a multistellar named Lazarus Unlimited. It is headquartered on Achamandra, but it has offices on all major Federation worlds.


Under both Federation and Phoenix Domain law, it is illegal to have multiple copies of the same person running around. In order to legally play a braintape into a force-grown clone, the original individual (or previous copy) must be proven to be dead. Numerous lawsuits in the past have made the life insurance companies very careful about this. This has proven to be a great impediment for the families of those whose loved ones dissapear mysteriously, or who die in very poorly documented circumstances. (On the bright side, this keeps a lot of private investigators employed.)

Naturally, just because it's illegal doesn't mean that it doesn't somtimes happen that clones of people, with memories intact, are activated. Sometimes it even happens without the original's knowledge.

It is a legal means of reproduction to make a clone of yourself, grow it naturally (rather than in a forced-growth tank), and raise it as a child, allowing it to develop on its own. The Human League frowns on this practise, and indeed most doctors and biologists use the argument of hybrid vigor to recommend against this means of reproduction.


Humans in the Phoenix Federation live (roughly) twice as long as humans at the beginning of the 21st century on Earth. This is the result of high-tech medical treatment, including the "Panimmunity" which all citizens are given as a matter of course. Panimmunity comes in the form of nanobiological symbiotes in your system which recognize and eliminate foreign substances, giving your immune system a huge boost. In the Phoenix Domain, usually only the nobility have access to panimmunity. Commoners do still live longer than people today, but not by nearly as wide a marign.

There are anti-agathic drugs available, but they are not legal in the Phoenix Federation. These drugs tend to be very dangerous, as if you either miss a dose, or if you have a bad reaction to a dose, all of the aging you skipped "catches up" with you in a matter of weeks, generally with disastrous consequences.

Some have thought to extend their life through cloning. Experience has shown, however, that a braintape played into a clone of a very different physical age often won't "take"; the exact reasons for this are still partially a mystery. (It is generally believed that the solution to this problem and to the problem of reliably creating a stable AI will come hand in hand.) Indeed, when you have a braintape read, a good life insurance company will also read the state of your muscles, bones, and other systems. If you have to collect on your life insurance, the force-grown clone will be subjected to stresses and exercises to simuilate the state of your physical body as closely as possible to its state when the braintape was read. This generally makes recovery from the braintape revival much smoother and easier.

Some people do "extend" their lifespans by putting themselves in freeze tubes, or by having a braintape played into a clone after a long delay. The people who do this experience the same subjected passage of time, just spread out over a larger number of years as far as the rest of the Galaxy is concerned. (Some in the the past have done a similar thing by bringing sublight ships close to the speed of light, zipping around for a little whlie, and then coming back home to find many years past due to the effects of relativistic time dilation.)

Biosculpting can change the shape of your body (if you go for the heavy duty stuff), and often can reduce a lot of the physical effects of aging (if you can pay for it). Society tends to frown on this in both the Federation and the Domain (for reasons discussed above), but some people do it. This, however, does not mitigate the mental effects of aging, which sooner or later will catch up with anyone.

It is not possible to "upload" your personality into a computer. To date, no researcher has been able to create a computer capable of running the program implicit in a person's braintape. The best they can do is store them, but wetware is still required to interact with that braintape.


As noted above, most citizens in the Phoenix Federation have panimmunity shots given to them at brith, so it is rare when they have to deal with a disease. One notable exception is Lungold, which has recently suffered a plague that seems not to be affected by standard panimmunity; as a result, this world has been interdicted.

Hospitals and most ship sick bays will be equipped with Automedics. Check yourself into one of these, and it can heal most of your maladies and wounds. Only for fancy or new stuff will it feel the need to call an actual, creative, thinking doctor. High-tech healing means that even when pretty badly wounded, you can usually get yourself patched up in a few days. Even high-tech first aid kits, emplying sensa-skin bandages, are more effective than their modern counterparts.


As expected in a setting like this, computers are pretty impressive. While they and robots are used to take much of the drudgery out of human life, they aren't used to replace humans for doing the really fun things. I don't have a good in-game explanation for this yet (heh), but the real reason is that the game is more fun if you rely on the people to get things done. So, while computers are great at solving large systems of nonlinear differential equations, at storing huge databases of information, at sifting through those databases to glean the information you want, usually you still need humans (or aliens) to do things like all but the most routine of driving and piloting, operation of sensors, especially complicated or unique medical procedures, etc.


Mindless "beast of burden" robots are extremely common. Factory robots manning assembly lines, farm robots tilling fields, self-cleaing cat litter boxes, all these sorts of things perform to their true space opera potential. When it comes to a complex piece of machinery or a work of art, a discerning eye can distinguish the work of a craftsman's hand from that of a nanofactory or a crude robot, but the robots can do what needs to be done.

More interesting are the androids and abmulatory robots which interact with humans and are individuals, such as the robots from Asimov's stories. Those are discussed below in Personality Simulation and AI.

Personality Simulation and AI

Personality simluation is common. Most shipboard computers have some sort of personailty simulation, if only to help their pilots from getting bored on long trips. Robot butlers with simluated stiff british upper lips are naturally popular. However, humans (and aliens) have been very careful to create robots which are too intelligent. The reason is very simple. Hundreds of years ago, they read too much Fred Saberhagen; they watched Terminator and The Matrix too many times; they played too many games set in the Reign of Steel. Keep R2D2 and C3PO as comic relief sidekicks, and you aren't going to have to wake up one day to find yourself living in a "the machines have declared humanity obselete" dystopia.

(The metagame reason is the same as the reason that autopilots aren't better at fighting space dogfights than human pilots. It's less fun when robots can do everything for you.)

AIs are a different matter. In this game's background world, it has turned out that true AIs- computers which are really intelligent, and capable of creativity, not just highly complex and seemingly intelligent expert systems- are very hard to make. More often than not when you make them, they rapdily go insane and go cybercomatose. As such, when you create a succesful AI, it becomes a very rare and expensive commodity. Good AIs exist, but they aren't all over the place.

Starship Propulsion

Reactionless drives are tried-and-tested technology, and almost every starship that you will find uses them; only truly quaint starships bother with reaction drives any more. (This may be because they come from a low-technology race, or a "lost" human colony that's been out of it for a long time, or because some perverse collector is deliberately going for a "retro" look.) High-performance spacecraft can generally have accelerations greater than 1g, sometimes much greater than that. Those spacecraft with less than about 1g of acceleration are still able to take off and land, thanks to the existence of contragravity, which is standard in almost any spacecraft.

There are two different types of faster-than-light drives availabe: the older, bulkier, jump drives, and the newer warp drives. Each technology has its own advantages and disadvantages, so both remain in use.

The speed of warp drives and the typical range of jump drives limits the size of a manageable government to approximately the size of a "sector", about 20-40pc across. You will find some governments in the galaxy which are larger, but those governments will usually tend to be alliances or loose confederations rather than governments with a lot of central control.

Jump Drives

Taking advantage of exotic gravitational physics, one can find "shortcuts" between stars which allow ships with bulky and expensive jump drives to instantaneously jump from one system to another. The exact location of the endpoint of a jumpline depends on the mass of the stars on either end of the jumpoint, as well as the distribution of mass nearby. Calculating where these jumpoints would be is a very difficult problem in hyperspace physics. Fortunately, they don't move around very much, so once you've been told where they are, it's a matter of astrogation to get yourself to one of them. Typically, jump points are in the outer parts of a stellar system, well away from any inhabited worlds. Also, for those stars with jumplines to more than one system, the jump points for each jumpline are well separated from each other.

A jump ship is the absolute fastest way to get from one system to another. Unfortunately, jump drives are always bulky. Nobody has managed to build a jump drive with a mass less than 200,000 pounds. This means that smaller ships can't have jump drives at all. Moreover, unless the ship is a behemoth, all that mass of jump drive will severely limit the ship's performance otherwise (acceleration of a reactionless drive, or speed of a warp drive). For this reason, many military ships work with the carrier/fighter model; a jump ship delivers high-performance fighers to the system where they are needed. Sometimes, fighters are equipped with warp drives for faster in-system travel (or even so they might be able to operate independently in a pinch).

When a jump ship emerges from a jump, it is imbued with an exotic fundamental particle called the "moron". Morons do not normally interact effectively with normal matter, and generally can be ignored... except if one wishes to make another jump. The half-life of the moron is approximately an hour. If a ship has a too high moron density when it makes a jump, it risks disaster– either severe damage, outright destruction, or a serious mis-jump. Generally, it takes a ship longer than a couple of hours to recharge its energy banks to provide the power necessary for a jump; however, even if a ship has extra battery capacity, only the foolish make two jumps without waiting a good while between them.

Jump ships are an older technology, and have been known for a very long time. Much of the colonization of the galaxy– by both humans and the aliens that make up the galactic civilization– was done entirely with jump drives. This tended to slow expansion, as it would sometimes take years of research to properly locate a new jump point. Additionally, jump points would occasionally be "lost", cutting off some sectors from others.

Warp Drives

More recently (though still more than a century ago), somebody (credit is hotly debated between a number of races) developed the warp drive. This opened up more flexible faster-than-light travel. Ships equipped with warp engines can form a "warp bubble" around themselves which propels them through space faster than the speed of light. However, even while skipping through space at FTL speeds, they may still observe and interact with normal space around them (i.e. they don't have to jump into any kind of hyperspace).

Warp drives have not replaced jump drives because warp physics make warp drives all but impractical for large ships– exactly those ships which tend to do best with a jump drive, fortunately. The power requirements to generate larger and larger warp bubbles do not increase linearly. Long-range fighters and scouts are usually the largest ships that can make good use of a warp drive. Sometimes, somewhat larger ships will be equipped with one, but those will tend to have a warp speed that will cause a trip between neighboring star systems to be measured in weeks or months rather than days.

Warp drives are rated by their Warp Thrust Factor (WTF). The speed of a ship is proportional to square root the WTF of its warp engines, but is inversely proportional to the square of its mass:

Speed = (4x10^9) * sqrt(WTF) / (m+100,000)^2

(where Speed is in pc/day and m is in lbs). Obviously, since one can talk about an absolute warp speed, travel at such speeds works very differently from sublight travel, which is subject to the laws of special relativity. Warp ships are not dependent on jumplines, but may travel anywhere a ship could go at slower than light speeds through normal space.

Warp fields become unstable and degrade close to large gravitating bodies. Practically speaking, a warp drive won't work when the local gravitational acceleration is greater than 0.001g. (For example, this is within about 2.5 AU of the Sun, or within 60,000 km of an Earth mass body.)

When a ship leaves warp, it assumes the sublight velocity it had upon entering warp. This sublight velocity may well be different relative to the nearest planet than it was relative to the planet it was near when it went into warp. Fortunately, big studly reactionless drives are cheap enough that they can deal with this sort of thing.

FTL Combat

Most combat occurs at sublight speeds. Those pesky speed modifiers make combat at warp speeds very difficult, unless you have nearly matched course with your target. This makes targeting particularly difficult whether you are at warp speed firing at something which is at sublight speed, or vice versa.

Firing beam weapons at warp speed is ill advised at best. Firing missiles, however, is possible. Indeed, firing intelligent missiles is one effective way of targeting sublight targets while you are at warp. While the missle is close to you, it will stay within your warp field. If aimed well, it can move far enough away from you, coasting along with your warp speed, before dropping out of warp. At that point, of course, you'll blow by it, as it assumes the sublight speed of your ship before you entered warp.

Faster-Than-Light Signals

Aside: some of the jargon below relates to the GURPS/3e version of GURPS Vehicles. I will get it cleaned up sometime....


FTL radio requires a fairly large installation, so typically it will only be installed on the largest starships. Most planets and space stations will have high bandwidth FTL radio facilities. FTL radio travels at 25pc/day. This means that the round-trip communication time between the two furthest separated worlds in the Phoenix Federation (Chelsea and Sheol) is about two standard days. If a message must get there faster, you'd better be prepared to engineer a succesful series of handoffs between just the right lineup of warp and jump ships.

This does mean that you're really cut off when you're out in the middle of nowhere in a small ship.

FTL Sensors

PESA sensors may be equipped with "warp sensors"; this multiplies the weight and volume of the sensors by 1.5, and the power requirement by 2. (Note that this is different from the standard "FTL Radar" in GURPS Vehicles.) Warp sensors may only detect an object which is moving using a warp drive. This represents an additional mode for the sensors, separate from the other modes a PESA already supports. Resolve all sighting rolls normally, with the following exceptions:

FTL sensor signals travel at 25 pc/day, the same speed as FTL communications. This corresponds to a speed of about 60 au/sec. This means that the data about the object at 1,000 AU in the previous example will be 16 seconds out of date.

The most information that one can get from a FTL sensor is FTL speed, WTF employed, and mass. Only a good sensor contact will yield a measurement of all three of those quantities.

Weaponry and Armor

Civilian Weapons and Legailty

Most of the Phoenix Federation is much like the United States today, in terms of how strict the government and laws are. The standard civilian sidearm is the blaster (or the holdout blaster, for those who want one in their purse), although sometimes the more quaint laser is viewed as more stylish. In most places, cvilians can legally carry a blaster pistol without a permit, although this will be illegal on some worlds and in some places of other worlds. The venerable stunner technology is also legal. Lucky civilians may get their hands on an electron pistol, which can either stun or kill, but normally these weapons are reserved for the police. Force swords are legal, and usually do not require a permit, but wreaking gratuitous havoc with a force sword can get one into a lot of legal trouble. Standard civilian body armor (e.g. Energy Cloth) is also legal, although somebody wearing it around might be viewed as strangely as would somebody wearing Kevlar vest around in today's world.

Heavier weapons (other than hunting weapons) and military weapons are generally flat illegal for civilians to carry. This includes all X-Ray lasers. Most vehicular mounted weapons on ground vehicles are illegal for civilians. On space vehicles, it's a different matter. The vastness of space, and the multiple day travel times between inhabited systems, means that even the most efficient space patrol can't protect everybody from the threat of piracy. As such, light vehicular weapons are allowed on civilian spacecraft, and most such spacecraft do mount a small laser or particle beam (but not X-ray lasers or antiparticle beams, which are illegal for civilians). Naturally, the misuse of these weapons, especially in the controlled airspace and local space of inhabited planets, is a serious offense.

The Phoenix Domain is both more and less strict about the carrying of weapons. The higher you are in the social order, the more you can get away with.

Arms for Police Forces

The arms for local police forces vary greatly from world to world. The best equipped police forces are equipped as well as the Federation Interstellar Patrol. This is the Federation police force which has jurisdiction in interstellar and (most) interplanetary space in the Federation, as well as within interstellar starports on Federation worlds. The Interstellar Patrol has starships as large as (and in the same configuration as) the corvettes used by the military.

Well equipped police forces use electron guns, which can be set to stun or to kill. The standard Patrol sidearm is an electron pistol, and civilian body armor (energy cloth). More heavily armed Patrol troopers may wear combat armor, and be armed with heavy electron rifles, or occasionaly heavier weapons.

Military Ordnance

These guys have the fun stuff. The two standard weapons are the X-Ray laser and the fusion rifle (the latter being a short range, pretty nasty plasma flamer). Soldiers may also be armed with grenade launchers that can launch "brilliant missles". These missiles may well have micronuke warheads. For close-in fighting with a minimum of collateral damage, many soldiers are also equipped with force swords, although naturally most grunts prefer to deal with threats from a distance.

For armor, most well equipped light infantray forces wear cybersuits. This is an adaptive form of "smart" body armor, which can function as a skin-tight vacc suit while still providing a respectable does of protection. Some heavier infantry wear powered combat armor; the best equipped guys have more expensive battlesuits (making them more or less small walking tanks). Although force screen technology exists, it does not yet exist on the personal level; only vehicles, space ships, and starships will use force screens. Personal deflector belts are available.

Force Shields

Individual force shields are not avialble, but many vehicles use them.