Oceans, The Final Frontier: Aquatic Inspiration for Science Fiction, Part 1
I’ve spent a lot of time talking about aquatic settings and creatures for fantasy and want to turn the focus on other genres for a bit. Though fantasy roleplaying is by far the most popular genre in the world, aquatic settings can be used in modern, science fiction, science fantasy, space opera, horror, alt history, name your favorite genre and as long as oceans exist, an underwater adventure is waiting.
Since the start of the 21st Century, I’ve come across numerous articles, photos, forum posts, and websites offering glimpses into actual or imagined futures. From the Blue Planet RPG Yahoo Group, to Facebook and other social media, it’s relatively easy these days to see cool new images to inspire your imagination. But rarely is it collected in one place. In the Final Frontier series, you will find a wide range of links and images, including RPG supplements, videos, articles on marine science, maps, real-world builds and concept sketches for sea-worthy vehicles, buildings, research stations, and even cities. Anything and everything I can find that has inspired me in my science fiction games will end up here.
So sit back and enjoy a glimpse into our own planet’s Final Frontier.
If you’re reading this column, you’ve likely heard me gush about the Blue Planet RPG from Biohazard Games on the Dungeon Master’s Block. Undercurrents Magazine was the fan-based gaming ‘zine that followed the Blue Planet RPG and includes system agnostic adventures, vehicles, short stories, and more. The Dark Water website collects all of the Undercurrents PDF issues for free, as well as grants access to PDFs of all the brilliant Blue Planet supplements.
I go into more detail about the Blue Planet RPG setting, why you should pick it up, and how you can use it to inspire your games in Final Frontier, Part 5.
Planet Solar is an entirely solar powered vessel that has traveled the world and been the focus of numerous charity campaigns.
From their website: “In 2004, a Swiss by the name of Raphaël Domjan had a crazy idea: to sail around the world on a boat powered only by solar energy, a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy. This dream became a reality in 2008. Domjan met Immo Stroeher, a German entrepreneur, an advocate for solar technologies who had solid experience in the field. Together, the two men combined ideas and funds to make this idea a reality.”
The Sea Orbiter makes the rounds of marine-research lover’s media every year or so. From concept art to active campaign, the fate of the Sea Orbiter is still up in the air, but the concept behind it is inspiration for any near or far future campaign.
The marine biologist in me wants to see hundreds of these stations around the world, but until then, they will have to populate my imagination.
The EGO “Semi Sub” is an interesting concept for personal exploration or a common transport vehicle for worlds with few large land masses. Though this design is for only two passengers, it’s not difficult to imagine a larger version usable as a mini research station, military vehicle, or transport.
Solus4 is an architectural firm that has plans for a marine research station to be built in Indonesia. Their website provides few photos but a quick Google search brings up a plethora of fascinating images ripe to be added to your next scifi game.
Looking for a layout for your next Lex Luthorian villain? Octuri brings us the concept of a “sea-plane convertible trimaran sailing yacht”. The complexity of a vehicle like this is hard to get across in one photo, but clicking the link above will provide a gallery of images covering the various configurations this thing has available.
Not to be limited to simply one convertible flying boat, Octuri has another concept for a more personal transport as well. Check out the slide-show here.
The Lilypad floating city is one of many designs you can find with a quick Images search. Whether the native cities of aquatic aliens, or the home of rising-tides survivors, these concept sketches make great visual aids for any aquatic science fiction game.