Space Opera without wars (Space Guard instead of Space Navies)

SunlessNick

Mildly Darkened One
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Pelgrane's Ashen Stars is essentially freelance law enforcement/conflict resolution in a space opera setting. Depending on the cases involved, a team could easily be faced with similar missions to the ones being sought here.
 

junglefowl26

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Despite the name, Star Wars itself is has plenty of good examples, with lots of stories about the criminal underworld, jedi (and the larger Republic Judicial Department that the jedi are part of) going around acting as peacekeepers, and miscellaneous pulp stories

The West End Games star wars books are particularly adept at providing non-war related plot hooks in the universe, with groups like various exploration and scouting organizations, the Space Rescue Corps, the Sector Rangers, news networks, and noblehouses providing structures for all kinds of campaigns outside of the Galactic Civil War.
 

LordofArcana

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In the Culture series the Involved (of which the eponymous Culture is one) cannot wage war on each other except by mutual consent. This isn't a legal requirement, it is a practical one: if either of the Involved don't want the war they can simply avoid the other indefinitely.

We could easily scale down the power level of the civilizations involved, increase the amount of interdependence, and have most of the valuable resources be people and technology. The result is that the various cultures have a lot to gain from each other and all manner of conflict is possible but whatever inter-state violence there is needs to be sudden and overwhelming or else the stuff you were trying to take will simply disappear into deep space. Espionage and diplomacy are far less risky and potentially much more rewarding, so the vast majority of conflicts are resolved by spies and diplomats.

There are wars, but they are carefully planned out masterstrokes not sustained campaigns. They will generally be done before the other side is even aware that a war is happening. Defenses would be calibrated appropriately, more focused on deterring impulsive smash and grab attacks or providing advance warning than proper warships as the latter are really a waste unless you are planning something.
 

Adam Reynolds

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The distinction between what I am talking about and what settings like Mass Effect feature is that while they feature the option of conflict without wars, they still feature wars as well. I am talking about a context in which wars themselves aren't really an option.
 

DarkStarling

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The distinction between what I am talking about and what settings like Mass Effect feature is that while they feature the option of conflict without wars, they still feature wars as well. I am talking about a context in which wars themselves aren't really an option.
Ah I see. So you don’t want wars are rare, you want wars can’t happen?

There’s the setting of Neptune’s Brood, where travel is limited to slower than light but interstellar communities still exist. They do this through being immortal transhumans, sending digital copies of themselves via radio, and having encryption based very long term currency.
 

ahndrostalgan

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Two foundational space opera novels you must read in this topic are Star Guard by Andre Norton and Space Patrol by Robert Heinlein.
 

Amberpup

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In the "League of Peoples" by James Alan Gardner, the more advance members of the League just executed any species beyond their home system that were deemed " dangerous non-sentient". Which came from as any being which kills a sentient being or through negligence allows a sentient being to die. One of the examples in the novels was a race which knew skin to skin contact with humans was deadly, yet still allowed the human ambassador to shake their hand. The League deemed this race as "dangerous non-sentient", and for decades the Humans would find their alien ships drifting about crew-less in that section of space. Of course no one visited their home system to check-up on them, since that alone could get whatever sentient being that did guilty to circumvent this law, and or aiding a "dangerous non-sentient" with the same punishment (star-ship crews dead).
 

committed hero

nude lamia mech
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Traveller's Third Imperium has this, sort of. Instead of the Imperial Navy, look at the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service. Exploration, diplomacy, espionage, courier duty, jack of all trades, all with smaller ships with smaller crews. Depending on how much you want to stick with canon (and there's a reason why In My Traveller Universe. or IMTU exists), you could just play up the cold war between the Imperium and its neighbours, especially the Zhodani in the Spinward Marches and the Solomani in the Solomani Rim.
The OP's description immediately brought the GURPS Traveller setting to my mind. The Fifth Frontier War is in the history books, and the Shattered Imperium doesn't happen - but there are enough powers and locations for the types of missions he envisions.
 

Rupert

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In the time of GUPS Traveller the Fight Frontier War is quite recent history, anding less than a decade ago. The period of Classic Traveller before the 5FW material came out is more like it - the Solomani Rim War is over a century past, and there have been no major conflicts since.

EDIT: I'm wrong - the Fourth Frontier War was fought only a generation prior to CT's default time period. However it was a short war, started accidentally and ended quickly (as these things go in the Traveller universe).
 
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