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

Victim

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#31
I think that if you want to overlap with the Coast Guard, then one big thing to consider is that a lot of the rescue type stuff that was important (as opposed to anti drug smuggling operations) is because the sea has rather changeable conditions. People go out under-prepared on nice day, the weather shifts, and they they're in trouble. Space doesn't really seem like it's going to catch people out like that, and under more realistic models, rescue ships are almost always going to be too far out to do anything about a ship crippled by random micrometeorite impact or something. I mean, I guess Star Trek has all kinds of weird anomalies that can mess people up, but those are generally 'out there' as opposed to near settled and patroled areas that seem safe.

The implications of not having stealth in space might be important here. If everyone always knows how powerful both sides are, it's possible you never get an actual war. Both sides just study the other side with telescopes, run the data through a simulation, and whichever side is going to lose surrenders before a shot is fired. But it's much easier to conceal a spaceship factory than a spaceship flying through space, if you have a planet to build it on. So the conflict switches to espionage and sabotage, trying to find out how powerful the other side is before the ships are launched, and slow down their production.
Space fights are highly mathematical and deterministic. Superior intelligence gives you a better understanding of enemy capacity, and an understanding of their knowledge of your own capacity. Conventional wisdom holds that a space battle will thus never be necessary; simply building a fleet of sufficient size and power will win the war.
Those assumptions are generally the realm of stuff that is not trying to be Space Opera.
 

Andurion

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#32
I feel like the default setting of Stars Without Number speaks to this. Or at least, it would be easy to set up a sector this way. Within a given system a polity might be able to build a strong intrasystem force. However, invading and taking another system is beyond the capability of all but the strongest of powers (and even then it's still no small task). The exorbitant financial costs and the uncertainty of success can contribute to a more or less cold war type situation among the sector hegemons. More common would be intrigue, diplomacy, espionage, sanctions, and other forms of "soft" power.
 

mindstalk

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#33
It is comparatively easy for anyone with a rocket engine and a guidance system to send a dinosaur killer asteroid on a collision course with their enemy.
Then it's comparatively easy for your target to push your dinosaur killer back off-course. Unless you made a low-energy adjustment, but that requires planning your attack years or decades in advance. There's also the no-stealth thing: any smart space-tech polity will be monitoring asteroids and visible rocket burns.
 

GrahamWills

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#34
This is a lot like the original intent behind the Lensmen series Galactic Patrol organisation. The Special Circumpstance branch of the Culture's Contact organisation may fit the bill too.
Yup, tend to agree. In the Culture series, space combat is very usually one-sided as the chances of two sides being technologically equal are pretty small. There's a paragraph in one book where one of the ships is explaining its strategy for fighting the (literally) millions of opposing ships and the human asks if there's anything they can do to help. The ship is amused and let them know that the combat only took a second and he's showing them a replay, with the only role for humans in combat being to add some pretty chemicals to the explosions when a ship blows up.

Instead, the big conflicts are for hearts and minds. Yes, you could easily crush a low-tech civilization, but much harder is to show them that their societal structure is wrong. Instead of ship combat, the critical combat in PLAYER OF GAMES takes place in huge government-sanctioned board game tournaments. Space Opera doesn't require space navy warfare; it's just easy to write such stories!
 

LordofArcana

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#35
Yup, tend to agree. In the Culture series, space combat is very usually one-sided as the chances of two sides being technologically equal are pretty small. There's a paragraph in one book where one of the ships is explaining its strategy for fighting the (literally) millions of opposing ships and the human asks if there's anything they can do to help. The ship is amused and let them know that the combat only took a second and he's showing them a replay, with the only role for humans in combat being to add some pretty chemicals to the explosions when a ship blows up.

Instead, the big conflicts are for hearts and minds. Yes, you could easily crush a low-tech civilization, but much harder is to show them that their societal structure is wrong. Instead of ship combat, the critical combat in PLAYER OF GAMES takes place in huge government-sanctioned board game tournaments. Space Opera doesn't require space navy warfare; it's just easy to write such stories!
The Culture-Idiran War actually took a surprisingly long time and some of the battles lasted minutes. That's unusual though, as it was basically the only time that Involved fought each other in any of the books and seemingly in modern galactic history. There is nothing to be gained from Involved doing so, but the Idirans and the Culture had such opposed ideologies that they wanted to fight anyway.
 

Dropkicker

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#36
There is nothing to be gained from Involved doing so, but the Idirans and the Culture had such opposed ideologies that they wanted to fight anyway.
Actually the Culture was reluctant to go to war but saw no other way of protecting itself from them. However, the Culture setting remains a good model for warless space opera.
 

mindstalk

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#37
Actually the Culture was reluctant to go to war but saw no other way of protecting itself from them. However, the Culture setting remains a good model for warless space opera.
Only in an ideological sense; the Idirans weren't physically attacking the Culture. They *were* gobbling up the less advanced worlds that the Culture likes to send Contact to in order to feel the Culture's existence is justified (via good works). The epilogue/appendix calls it a holy war on the Culture's part.

And it had a bad/slow start for the Culture because the Culture really didn't have dedicated warships ready, having relied on mobility and the sheer Swiss Army knifeness of an "unarmed" Culture-tech ship. Also the Idirans, less advanced than the Culture, were backed by the Homomdans, an older Culture-level species that thought the Culture needed to be taken down a peg.
 

LordofArcana

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#38
Actually the Culture was reluctant to go to war but saw no other way of protecting itself from them. However, the Culture setting remains a good model for warless space opera.
No, they explicitly knew that they could avoid them indefinitely and did just that until they had established a war industry. The reason for the war was that they saw no other way of protecting lesser civilizations who were far less mobile from the Idirans. Similarly the Idirans had no shortage of territory, but the idea of a society so dependent on machines was morally repugnant to them. Even so, a fair number of members of the Culture decided not to participate (the so-called True Culture) and simply continued to avoid any potential conflict.

It is later described as a religious war.

Edit: I had forgotten about the Homondans.
 

FoolishOwl

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#39
Free Spacer, which is still in development, has a premise that there was a large-scale war that ended some time ago without a decisive victory, leading to a cold war in which PCs are agents of one faction or another. A "faction" could be pretty much anything, as long as it's plausibly got the wealth to pay for a small starship and crew, and there are a wide variety of roles that the PCs could take: diplomats, explorers, or engineers, as well as the usual merchants, mercenaries, or bounty hunters.
 
#40
I would very much like to see a science fiction setting where the main characters are not members of a military or quasi-military organization, where they don't wear uniforms, have ranks, or call each other "sir" They should have a variety of jobs, and not have to always be saying things like "target their engines. Fire!" Since Star Wars, people have continued to focus on the "Wars" part. Because of this, sci-fi is so often focused on laser fights and big explosions in space. I think as soon as someone begins designing a science fiction RPG, they immediately start thinking about all the cool weapons this game will have. This a problem. A story can be interesting and fun even if it isn't about a war.
 
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