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

MatchstickUK

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Bit surprised no-ones mentioned Mindjammer.

Definitely leans towards Space Opera but the overall conflict mechanism to me seems less interested in beating up other ships and more about winning populations over to your way of thinking.
 

Anfelas

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I should have added that when I mentioned the Culture up thread...

slight aside I like the Traveller version better for integration with my homebrew Traveller Culture rip off, but found the Fate version much more useful when I used Genesys to run it.
 

omphaloskepsis

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Eclipse Phase, Polaris, Blue Planet, Transhuman Space (somewhat), Cyberpunk, there are a lot of game settings that aren't militaristic, though obviously you could focus on those aspects. Cyberpunk and similar games are odd because they're not strictly militaristic, but they carry some of the same baggage. OTOH, Eclipse Phase doesn't even have ship combat rules. The default play is centered around spy-like players working for a secret "protect humanity from existential risks" agency known as Firewall.

In terms of actual science fiction, military sf and space opera are just 2 sub-genres of a much wider field. See: Greg Egan, Vernor Vinge, Charles Stross and literally hundreds of other authors. For softer sci-fi there are plenty of examples among the new wave authors of the 60s (Zelazny, Delany, Le Guin, Dick, etc.). Going back further there's Sturgeon and many more all the way back to HG Wells.

Space opera has a lot of ties to Pulp, which, I suspect, is why it's been the main area of interest for RPGs and movies. But it's barely scratching the surface.
 

Adam Reynolds

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Even if the espionage isn't very effective at resolving conflict by itself, the information that spies find out would be invaluable for foreign policy.
Even then there is a question of whether it is worth the cost, as there is often a lack of strategic vision in intelligence gathering. See the NSA's collection of literally everything. Though this is also an interesting element of the concept as well, it isn't a flaw.
 

Ficino

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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.
Yeah, it seems to me that there is a lot of Space Opera that fits, more or less, the O.P.s description. In the Andre Norton Solar Queen novels there are no wars going on that I can recall, but there is a Space Patrol that acts as a law- and peace-enforcement bureau.
 

Ken Spencer

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Rocket Age, TTRPG and fiction. While the setting is designed as open ended as far as campaign type, there a few campaign styles you might be interested in.

The primary one would be US Rocket Rangers, a military organization whose preview is protecting citizens and interests across the Solar System, but whose indoctrination involves the 'American Ideals' as expressed by the square jawed heroes of pulp sci-fi, namely Justice, Liberty, and Equality. When the government's orders conflict with these values the Rangers choose their values over their orders. A lot of what they do is police work, emergency response, espionage, and other soft uses of power in areas of the Solar System that governments (including their own) have no reach or authority. Rangers tend to operate alone or in a small group, and recruit 'deputy rangers' as unofficial assistants and aids.

Aside from promoting my own work, I will pile on with Traveller's Third Imperium and Milieu 0 settings would serve nicely. The hard part is choosing which editor or iteration of the rules to use.
 

Agemegos

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So how might a world like this work? Is there any actual plausibility to it?
I have never had much taste for military role-playing, at least in the sense that I think that battlefield is not a good place for PCs. So when I devised an SF setting for my own use I made one in which interstellar war and most large-scale war on planets is effectively suppressed. It has been satisfactory to my needs since 1987, and I just wrote a new Players' Introduction. But then, it inclines towards [rationalised] planetary romance rather than space opera, and I deliberately avoid high-stakes, large-scale, wide-scope conflicts in favour of things that naturally fall within the purview of individuals and small groups of PCs. I've run a lot of sci-fi detective adventures and exploration adventures in this setting, and some clandestine ops. Clandestine ops need not necessarily be military/intelligence/political in nature—I've run adventures in which the PCs were investigative journalists, one in which they were troubleshooters from the Reporters' Guild searching for an insured member who had disappeared, one in which they were troubleshooters for the heritage foundation searching for a missing impresario and painting, a couple of campaigns for free-lance artwork acquisition agents (art thieves/scammers).

Take a look a my players' introduction if you like.
 

Agemegos

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Here's a 101 thread collecting pitches for sci-fi campaigns that are not military in nature and do not amount to the Traveller tramp-trader campaign.
 

Adam Reynolds

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I have never had much taste for military role-playing, at least in the sense that I think that battlefield is not a good place for PCs. So when I devised an SF setting for my own use I made one in which interstellar war and most large-scale war on planets is effectively suppressed. It has been satisfactory to my needs since 1987, and I just wrote a new Players' Introduction. But then, it inclines towards [rationalised] planetary romance rather than space opera, and I deliberately avoid high-stakes, large-scale, wide-scope conflicts in favour of things that naturally fall within the purview of individuals and small groups of PCs. I've run a lot of sci-fi detective adventures and exploration adventures in this setting, and some clandestine ops. Clandestine ops need not necessarily be military/intelligence/political in nature—I've run adventures in which the PCs were investigative journalists, one in which they were troubleshooters from the Reporters' Guild searching for an insured member who had disappeared, one in which they were troubleshooters for the heritage foundation searching for a missing impresario and painting, a couple of campaigns for free-lance artwork acquisition agents (art thieves/scammers).

Take a look a my players' introduction if you like.
How much do you generally have violent confrontations in your campaigns, and how are they usually resolved? In your player's guide it seems to be the case that stun weapons don't really get much use, and that most weapons are archaic. That is one interesting approach to making it harder to carry out.

This is a rather neat setting concept overall. As a random point, I rather like the take on nanotechnology, it is one of the most realistic takes on the issue, in which it is simply programmable bacteria and suffers from the same limitations. My biggest thing is that I would rather have a setting more like The Expanse in which all of the action is within the solar system without FTL, though given that the majority of the population is still on Earth, it would make sense if much of the action is still there. But Earth could also be radically different as a result of a mix of climate change and technological solutions to this problem, with things like massive archologies often replacing cities in a more sustainable fashion, seasteading allowing self sufficent cities at sea equally as advanced as those in space, and nation states that are all rather different as a result of all of these factors.
 

Agemegos

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I do have violent confrontations in my adventures — suspects resist arrest in detective stories etc. — and they can be deadly because (1) not every adventure is on an backward underdeveloped world, and (2) archaic weapons such as firearms can be deadly dangerous. But mostly I rely a lot on using a game system that has robust rules for stealth & infilitration, persuasion & disimulation, vehicle and foot chases, and other sorts of action content.

With a campaign set in the Solar System you get a very different result, without the focus on planet-of-the-week anthropological puzzles, though you do get some room for sociological and political strangeness. It's a pity that the Solar System turns out to be a lot more hostile an environment than Asimov and Heinlein assumed in e.g. the "Lucky Starr" novels, Space Cadet, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Heinlein's "Future History" stories. Fifties Heinlein in particular had a lot of well worked-out detail and a lot of ideas about things that could happen that weren't war.

Since you are thinking of an Earth transformed by climate change can I suggest conflict over environmental restoration, adaptation to the changes, geoengineering, and preservation of what can be preserved? This can be carried off Earth as disputes over terraforming.

Or take a look at the list of example NGOs in the Flat Black brief. Some such as the Reporters' Guild might suggest possible campaigns that could work without all the planets-of-hats.
 
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