L-X1 Light Assault Ship
+10 Cargo Space
Ciniod IV - Moon 2
Mean radius (km): 634 + 13
Ice Resource Field
Boosts Living Quarters
Bonus Yield: +3
Influence level: 2
STARBORNE is a take on the grand-strategy 4X genre with the added powerful impact of being a multiplayer game played in real-time. In STARBORNE each game will last six months culminating in a decisive endgame.
You start with a fledgling station and as you invest in its infrastructure you will see it take shape and its borders grow, bringing unclaimed territories under your sovereignty. Soon it will be time to build another station with its own unique purpose within your master-plan. Will the next station be a center of research? A military compound? Or an industrial complex?
In STARBORNE there are multiple paths to success. Spymasters use their gathered intelligence to steer others’ ambitions to their own end. Explorers go on star treks searching for hidden riches and fame while industry moguls establish vast trade networks and utilize the final frontier's boundless resources. Spartan defenders focus on impregnable defenses and use their fleets to protect their sovereignty and that of their allies while Space-Napoleons use their offensive fleets to plunder opponents and pave their path to glory.
Take a look at our brand new teaser here!
A new developer's video is in the Devblog section, where the art director explains the vision for Starborne and debuts the map for the very first time!
Quench your curiosity for STARBORNE with the FAQ.
"I told you not to call me that."
"I'm sorry, Anarch."
Anastasia smiled at her underling. He was a new addition to their family, and this was his first time in space. He was shaking as if he had the chills. Anastasia worried that he might faint at any moment.
"What do you have to report?" she asked in a kind, but stern voice.
The small man was still trembling nervously. "The assailant that was apprehended yesterday, the one who killed two of our guards, we managed to identify him."
Anastasia frowned. She didn't like to be reminded of her failures. Every member of Xaoc served under her, and she was responsible for each and every one of them. The attacker had boarded their spaceship covertly last night. How he had gotten past their sensors and managed to dock without anyone noticing was still a mystery. It had taken a while to subdue him but in the end she had knocked him out. Two of her guards had not survived the fight. If only she had been there sooner, she would have made quick work of him, and no one would have gotten killed.
"Show me to his cell," she commanded. "Give me the details as we walk."
As she walked she took long strides and the man had to break into a half-run in order to keep up with her. He was crouching over a sheet of paper. Anastasia stood with her head held high, towering two feet above him as he read.
"His name is Sillian Kain. Records indicate that he works for the Bindenburg corporation."
"Bindenburg?" Anastasia stopped walking. This came as a surprise. Although it was true that some of the other Anarchs raided Bindenburg operations regularly back on Sol, Xaoc had left them mostly alone for years now. They were hardly Bindenburg's biggest concern. She had a bad feeling about this, something wasn’t right. "What is that old geezer, Tyr Ramon, up to?"
Anastasia could hear the slight humming of the engines as they walked. The Destroyer creaked every now and then, but it was nothing to be worried about. The ship itself was well maintained, even if some parts of it were old. After all, they had to make due with what they had. Anastasia had gotten used to the discerning smell of rust that pervaded every part of the ship, in fact she had even come to like it.
When they arrived at the cell, the guard opened the doors immediately. Anastasia liked the fact that she didn't have to tell him what to do. A little initiative was a good thing. A squad under strong leadership, but capable of independent thinking was more likely to survive in this harsh world. She stepped inside the cell and her subordinates followed. Inside the cell, fastened to the wall, was a sickly looking young man. He had been outfitted with a rudimentary metal helmet, no doubt meant to block communication via neural implants. The man looked exhausted, as if he hadn't slept for days. He looked up at his new visitors as they entered the cell. Anastasia could hear the two men behind her backing away slowly. The prisoner's eyes looked empty, as if there was no soul behind them. Anastasia saw the faint outline of a smile on the prisoner's face. It was clear that he had no remorse for his actions, no regret for the lives he had taken. Maybe Ramon hadn't sent him after all. Maybe he had come here of his own accord.
"Leave us," Anastasia commanded.
The two subordinates looked at each other and hesitated slightly, but knew better than to disobey a direct order from Anastasia. Besides, if anything went wrong she was more than capable enough to handle herself. A few months ago, a small scouting fleet had been trapped after a failed recon mission on an enemy space station. Most commanders would have counted the ships lost, but not Anastasia. She had swooped right into enemy territory and held off a fleet of ten Corvettes on her own. By the time backup arrived the enemy had already been taken care of and the scouting ships were safe and sound.
The door to the cell slammed shut, leaving nothing but a dim light and the smell of sweat between Anastasia and the prisoner. She noticed some dried blood on his head, undoubtedly from the blow she had dealt him yesterday.
"They tell me your name is Kain."
Kain remained silent, rubbing his metal handcuffs on the wall behind him. Anastasia wasn't worried. Even if he managed to somehow break free, they were both unarmed, and he didn't stand a chance against her in hand-to-hand combat.
"It would seem that you managed to kill two of my men yesterday," Anastasia felt slightly disgusted at the thought of what she was about to say, but she needed to get him to talk. "I must say I find that quite impressive." She paused for a moment to allow him to respond. He didn't.
"I don't know who you work for or how much they're paying you, but if you come work for me, I'll double whatever they're giving you." Anastasia turned away as she spoke, being careful to hide the look of anger and disgust she had on her face. She hated lying, but pretending to be impressed with what this man had done was even worse.
"I'll never betray my master," Kain said.
"Are you sure? You know, he probably doesn't care as much about you as you seem to care about him."
"I'd rather die."
She bent down and grinned at him, the rage in her eyes burning fiercely. "Oh, if you think I'm going to grant you that favor, you are sorely mistaken."
She straightened her back and took a deep breath, exhaling it all at once. This man wasn't worth losing her temper over. She wiped the dust from her coat and shook her head lightly. It was time to get what she wanted from him.
"Every member of Xaoc is my responsibility, you know," she told him as she moved closer to him. There was no hint of hostility in her voice. "I think of them as my family." She punched him so hard in the face that he fell to the floor, bleeding. His hands hanging from the chains fastened to the wall. "I love my family," she kicked him in the gut and he grunted in response. "I respect my family," she pulled him up, holding him by the collar of his jacket. "And now you have taken two of them from me," she gripped his jaw as hard as she could without breaking it. "I'm going to give you one chance. Who do you work for? Did that old man, Ramon, send you?"
Kain spat in her face. "I'll never tell you."
Anastasia closed her eyes and took a deep breath, she had no patience for people like him. She wiped the spit off her face as she stood up.
"So be it."
Anastasia walked out of the cell an hour later. "Tend to his wounds," she told the guard who had resumed his post at the door. "I'm not done with him yet."
She pulled out a handkerchief and started wiping the blood off her hands. An hour of torture and he hadn't given up so much as a name. She headed to her quarters, the familiar scent of rust calming her down as she walked. Even though she hated the man, torturing him had left her with a bad taste in her mouth. Anastasia wondered how Tyr Ramon managed to command such loyalty from his employees. She almost felt a sense of respect for him.
Then again, thinking back to the torture, there had been something off about Kain. For a moment she could have sworn that she saw a cry for help in his eyes, directed towards her. Whatever it was, it had disappeared as quickly as it appeared, replaced be the same look of emptiness that was there when she first saw him. She discarded those thoughts quickly. It was probably just a pair of ocular implants playing tricks on her. This was no time for weakness. Even though Kain wasn’t a threat right now, he was merely an extension of Tyr Ramon’s will anyway, and Anastasia knew well enough that he was not to be underestimated.
"Very well," she said to herself out loud. "If it's war the old man wants, I'll give him his war."
The Tianchao corvettes crept upon the facility, inching towards spacewalk distance. Koh Xi Kwok eyed his strike team. They looked focused, determined. He knew their look matched his own. No need to worry about unforeseen defenses, surprise was on their side. Kwok couldn’t see the effects of the strange Rune the engineers had installed before they left, but he knew it made them almost impossible to detect. Lazarus Shroud they called it. Kwok had only vague knowledge of western religions, but still felt the name apt. The decision to use up an expensive Rune was not taken lightly, but the circumstances called for it. The facility they were about to attack was run by the notorious Mars Prosper League. The MPL had a voracious appetite for minerals, sending out mining fleets and building mining bases at an alarming pace throughout space. Despite MPL having access to impoverished serfs they transported from Earth, they were always in need of more. The MPL solved this in their typical unscrupulous fashion by coercing anyone they encountered into serfdom. Which brought Kwok here today, leading his strike team against this MPL facility. To free his people.
Kwok brought up the map of the facility in his mind, making sure he had the locations of exits and guard posts in his quick access memory. The facility was a Worker Training Camp, a place where MPL gathered their labor, supposedly to educate them. Tianchao, the people of Warlord Wei, were becoming ever more numerous in space. Which meant increased risk of clashes with MPL. A Tianchao freighter bound for a fledgling colony was commandeered by MPL a few days ago. Only recently had Kwok and his covert op team managed to track their whereabouts down to this place.
Kwok and his team assembled outside the waste disposal system, their designated entry point. Blowing a hole through the outer wall would be far easier to gain entry, but that would alert the guards and Kwok wanted to avoid any kind of hostage situation. Kwok surveyed his team, feeling proud at how fast and efficiently they worked. Tianchao had a lot of resources now and Kwok had put them to good use when assembling the team. He didn’t regret his choice in joining with Warlord Wei and his Tianchao. It was a definite step-up from working for his uncle out in the boondocks, spying on other paranoid entrepreneurs playing their empire building game. He was in the big league now, helping Tianchao reach for the stars in a bid to gain economic and political dominance over rival warlords back on Earth.
They were inside the facility now. The electronic surveillance system had been compromised, thanks to a backdoor access into the system provided by a Tianchao agent in the manufacturer’s plant. The team was in position. The guards had been targeted. ‘Shàn you shàn bào, è you è bào.’ Kwok whispered, before giving the command to move out.
They struck fast and silently. The guards, used to no more opposition than that of a feeble, unarmed serf, never stood a chance against this highly trained team of special operatives. With the guards taken care of, Kwok started to systematically go through the facility, searching for his missing people. Walking the corridors, he gradually realized that this was no mere education facility. It was a sorting station. In one area, the strongest, most able, were being prepared for hard work or soldier duty with steroids and cyber-implants; in another pretty youths were being pampered in preparation for life in a brothel. Treating people like cattle just to turn a profit, made Kwok sick to his stomach.
He left it to his team to round up the remaining Tianchao settlers to go compose his initial report to his superiors. They had to be told what really was going on in these Worker Training Camps. Maybe it would compel them to finally get proactive against the overt aggression of MPL and their Marauder allies. Kwok knew such plans existed, he had even heard whispered rumors about a clandestine alliance with ESA and Gelecek to fight the Martians. He liked that idea. Now he only needed to phrase his report correctly to make sure his superiors liked it as well.
Agent Sillian Kain adjusted himself in his seat for the umpteenth time. The sleek scout ship had not been designed with comfort in mind. At least the trip was almost over, they were already within Sol system. His sophisticated neurolinks allowed him to track his trip and his surroundings, in a way that only augmented humans could do. For Kain, his neurolinks were his most important assets, without them he would propably still be living in squalor on Earth.
Going though yet another security checkpoint, Kain marveled at the tight surveillance and secrecy surrounding the hidden facility he was heading for. It was understandable. It housed the largest R&D department operated by the vast Binderburg conglomerate. And sprawled around the facility as far as the eye could see lay huge space farms, tilted towards the sun.
Binderburg already operated dozens of them in orbit around Earth, supplying the desolate masses with cheap food grown in healthy soil. But they were under constant harassment from Xaoc and others, intent on breaking the monopoly Binderburg held. It was a losing battle, as far as Kain was concerned, too close to Earth to properly protect. Which explained these new hidden space farms. The old ones around Earth where still maintained. No longer relied upon as Earth’s bread basket, but to draw the attention of those railing against Binderburg.
Most people saw Binderburg as nothing more than growers of food. It became so by pure happenstance, stemming from Earth’s soil turning too sour to grow healthy food. Suddenly, Binderburg’s side-project of growing genetically engineered foodstuff in space became the only decent alternative. It provided Binderburg with the revenue to conduct what the CEO, old man Tyr Ramon, saw as the real work. Agent Kain patted the sealed box sitting next to him. Ramon would be happy. Kain had been chasing this particular piece of Symbiont relic for weeks. It was a shame he had to kill the scavenger that possessed it, some people just didn’t know when to give up. But in the outer regions, a rare relic like this was far more valuable than a human life. Heck, out there, most things were, Kain idly mused. There would be a nice bonus involved, Kain thought, maybe even promotion. To Kain, it was only a matter of time. There were few better hunters out there.
The docking procedure finished with a loud clank. After supervising the handling of the relic case, Kain headed to the living quarters to report to Ramon. Navigating the narrow corridors, Kain was already playing the conversation they would have in his head. Suddenly, he felt his neurolinks overload, bringing him to his knees disoriented and nauseated. Kain vaguely sensed men on either side of him, lifting him by his arms and dragging him to a maintenance room. Slowly gaining his senses, he noticed a child standing in front of him. Not just any child Kain noticed, as cold dread gripped his gut, a Child of Mars. Kain knew this one, Mal Estrade, a particularly crafty Child. How in the world did he manage to get into the base, Kain thought frantically?
Estrade spoke in his high-pitched childlike voice. “Finding you here Agent Kain, is a surprising bonus to this mission. I have long desired to meet you, for you are a man of many talents. I would have liked to entertain you at my home in a more leisurely fashion, but regretfully the circumstances do not provide that luxury. Cruder methods are called for and as fortune would have it, I have found a way to gain access through your neurolinks.”
The neurolinks! Kain desperately tried to send a warning call using his neurolinks, but they didn’t respond to him for some reason. Then Estrade reached his hand out and touched Kain’s forehead. All went black.
Kain blinked his eyes, they stung. His mouth had a metallic taste to it he didn’t recognize. Slowly gaining his wits, he noticed he was still in the maintenance room. Mal Estrade was standing by the far wall, inspecting a datapad. A couple of his Marauder thugs lounged nearby. Kain slowly gained his feet.
“Welcome back, Kain. Feeling better?” Estrade said, glancing up from his datapad nonchalantly. Kain didn’t really, but nevertheless nodded his head, still a bit groggy.
“Good. I have an important mission for you,” Estrade said, sounding absent minded. “The Anarch Anastasia is becoming a thorn in my side. I want you to find her and bring her to me, alive. Think you can handle that?”
“Of course, Master Estrade,” Kain replied, standing to attention. He frowned for a fraction of a second. Something… didn’t feel quite right. Why did a small voice in his head scream at him to kill Estrade, his noble and beloved leader? Then his mind settled. He had a mission. “I will find her and bring her to you, Master Estrade,” he finished with conviction.
Estrade looked up and gave a sly smile. “I know you will, my hunter,” he said and waved Kain off.
“Red Fox 1, we have visuals on target. Adjusting approach vector, ETA in 3 minutes.”
After the tedious two hour journey, Max felt relief at the message. A man of action, he hated the slow travel times. At least the promise of action jolted him fully awake. After a quick scan of his sensors, he fired off a command to his squad leaders.
“Green Fox, Gold Fox, align to wedge formation behind me. Take speed down two notches, we’re going in quick and easy.”
Their target in sight, the small industrial station was barely visible against the backdrop of the dull grey moon it orbited. This was the fourth raid Max led on the station in the past week. Their objective was not to destroy the station or interrupt its operation. They were here to steal the resources it harvested. Life on the outskirts of human space, light-years from Earth, was harsh and any extra scrap of resource of immense value.
“Gold Fox 5, do you have visuals on the missile battery?” Max asked. The small missile battery was the only defense protecting the station and previous raids proved it posed a limited danger.
“Negative Red Fox 1. Thermal imagery of first salvo is estimated in 30 seconds.”
“Red Fox 1, this is Gold Fox 3. We have finished the sweep for enemy ships. As expected, there are no enemy ships in the vicinity.” Max wasn’t surprised by this. He knew the owner of the industrial station had a small defensive fleet stashed away somewhere, but as usual a fake attack on a more prosperous station had drawn it away. ‘Like taking candy from a baby,’ Max thought. He didn’t have any qualms about stealing resources in raids. As far as he was concerned, people only deserved what they could defend.
“All units, align for a run at the warehouse. You know the drill, first wave to break it open, second wave to pick up caches.” Max increased his throttle, his sleek, red, assault ship shooting up in a vector high above the station’s plane. He intended to make a run himself to fill his extended cargo hold, but not until after the first few waves.
“Red Fox 1! This is Gold Fox 5. We have thermal imagery of the missile salvo. There seems to be some… discrepancy.” The voice sounded hesitant. “Full report,” Max barked. He would have a word with the pilot back home, vague communications were often worse than none.
“The missile salvo is much larger than previous ones. We’re now getting a visual of the missile battery itself. It has been upgraded, significantly.” Max cursed silently. He had advocated for constant reconnaissance of raid targets, to make sure there were no surprises. His suggestion had been shot down as being paranoid. “Well, sometimes only the paranoid survive,” he muttered. He made a quick survey. The first squads were already inbound for the warehouse. It was too late to pull out. They would just have to weather the storm.
“All units, this is Red Fox 1. Large salvo of missiles is incoming. Continue your run, but prepare to deploy decoys and engage in evasive maneuvers. We will hit them hard and get out with our bellies full as before,” Max cut the intercom, then added to himself: “I hope.”
Half an hour later, Max was back en-route to home base. He had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Not only had the missile battery been upgraded, but its guidance system was improved as well, making it very deadly. His force of almost 100 ships had been decimated, with more than half lost. Sure, the cargo holds of the remaining ships were full of valuable resources, but it counted for little compared to the massive losses in lives and materials they had sustained.
Max Rykov was no coward, his reputation as an exceptionally daring and skilled pilot was well founded. But he was pragmatic as well, and knew that further raids against the small industrial station would be foolhardy at best. Easier raid targets were not hard to find. But Max felt humiliated by his defeat and wanted to avenge his fallen comrades. He hoped to convince his employer that luring that elusive defense fleet out in the open and destroying it once and for all would leave the whole enemy empire wide open and ripe for taking. It was just a question of putting out the right baits.
Mars is a harsh mistress, claiming the lives of countless early settlers. Only the toughest survived and, as it turns out, those most ruthless and cruel as well.
The distance between Mars and Earth gave the first colonists a lot of autonomy and the rich resource fields gave them lot of wealth. Intense competition led to them spreading out, the most powerful of them building strongholds to defend against fellow colonists and the environment alike.
Years passed and the first colonists aged. Sitting in their strongholds jealousy guarding their hoards like worms, they dreamt of immortality. Using a combination of primitive genetic engineering treatments, experimental drugs and forbidden tech, a method was developed to transfer their consciousness and memories into a new body. But this came with a cost. The mind transfer, which takes years, has a high risk of data corruption when using a fully-developed mind. Only with a brain not yet fully developed can the mind transfer guarantee near-perfect transfer, as synapses can more easily be manipulated. This goes for both participants, meaning the transfer into a new body needs to start at no later than 18 years of age. Starting with a newly born (for minimal “contamination”), the colonists would find out through trial and error that a transfer period of 7 to 13 years was preferred. 13 years offered almost perfect mind transfer, but meant a lifespan of only five years. A transfer period of 7 or 11 years was also possible, but the mind transfer was then less complete. It was adequate to function and allowed for longer lifespan.
In the century since first developing this process, these first colonists, soon known as Children of Mars, have alternated between living for a few years and then spending the next years transferring their mind into a new body. This means that of the several hundred Childs, about half is active at any given time. Once word spread about the practice, the Children were reviled and despised by most people. They didn’t care, they had achieved their goal of immortality, even if it meant living in a child’s body.
What the Children needed most was manpower and once space travel became faster and easier, they found their perfect partners in crime. The Mars Prosper League (MPL), a conglomerate of industry tycoons, came to Mars in force to exploit its riches on a more massive scale than the Children ever were capable of. In MPL, the Children found men not bound by rules or morals when there was money on the line. In a few years, the two factions had created a nice little ecosystem for themselves on Mars. The Children leased territory to MPL, getting paid in humans. MPL imports thousands of serf labor from Earth to use in their mines, with a portion going to the Children. The benefits for MPL are massive – they get access to the richest resource fields at a low cost and can even rid themselves of rebellious workers by simply sending them to a Child stronghold. The Children get the manpower they need to sustain themselves, in addition to servants and guardsmen, fanatically loyal to the Child of their stronghold.
No one knows how the Children command such loyalty from their followers. All that is known is that anyone who enters a Child stronghold always emerges a changed person. Each Child can now call upon a sizeable force of followers to do their bidding. In recent years, the Children have started to broaden their area of operation, sending their followers on missions and errands all over known space. These missions frequently become violent, as the Children don’t recognize any authority but their own and consider anything to be fair pickings. Children followers are now called Marauders and they can strike fear into even the most battle-hardened soldiers. Equipped with massive war machines and showing no fear or mercy, a fleet of Marauders have no qualms about attacking even heavily fortified space colonies. They frequently butt heads with other factions operating in space, most notably the Lunar powers. These clashes haven’t resulted in a full-fledged war between Mars and Lunar, but tempers are rising and anyone traversing space should be aware of the Marauder menace.
To most, the brutal, irrational behavior of the Marauders points to the Children being mad, sending their followers out to rampage with no rhyme or reason. But some speculate that there might be a method to their madness. For one, the Children see themselves as immortal and thus plan not with months or years in mind, but decades and centuries. Sowing chaos and stifling social progress is also very much in their interest, to maintain the supply of cheap serf labor they require. Whether Marauder rampages are a part of some obscure bigger plan is a question many are asking these days. Only time will tell what the answer is. And time is on the side of the Children.
Mankind’s conquest of space was a slow fuse for most of the 21st century until culminating in a bang at its closure. Deteriorating climate on Earth created a doom and gloom atmosphere, making expensive space programs hard to justify. Whether through foresight or luck, one space program managed to rise from the ashes of diminished revenues and public support. That was the European Space Agency (ESA). For decades ESA had been eclipsed by the space programs of other national entities and, when facing financial collapse and closure, it launched one last desperate bid for posterity.
An ambitious mission to set up a mining rig on Ceres, the dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, paid out spectacularly when the varied rich minerals were sold to mega-corporations on Earth and in the fledgling Lunar Colony for vast sums. These initial treks combined ancient vessels with untested prototype technology. They were fraught with danger, sharing similarities to the sea expeditions from Europe to Asia centuries earlier, bringing back spices and other luxury items for fabulous profits. Soon, others followed in ESA’s footsteps, but by that time further treks had already established ESA as the leading space agency.
The ESA directors were quick to use their new-found riches to force their lethargic European controllers to negotiate a new charter, granting ESA unprecedented powers and autonomy. In the next century, ESA used their power and wealth to mold themselves into the self-proclaimed civic administration for all activity in space. While they hold little sway in the domains of Mars and the Moon, they have gained almost total control over the exploration and eventual settlement of other solar systems. The majority of inter-stellar exploration ships operating out of Sol are ESA vessels and they are responsible for making initial charting of distant solar systems before settlement permits can be bought.
The last couple of decades have seen a marked increase in human settlements outside Sol. The key factor is improved propulsion technology, making inter-stellar travel significantly more easy and risk free. ESA oversees these settlement efforts by first mapping out large swaths of space before selling settlement rights to willing parties. New territories are opened up for settlement on regular basis and while ESA tries to maintain its grip on areas newly charted, it is common for factions not under the heel of the ESA to move in without ESA consent.
While parts of the procedure are heavily regulated, other parts are much laxer. A new settlement is monitored for a short while by ESA to make sure things are going smoothly. But after this grace period is over, its occupants are pretty much left to their own devices and given complete freedom in how to build and expand into surrounding areas. This lack of security is not to everyone’s liking and many settlers give up when faced with the cold reality of hostile neighbors. But those that make it have every opportunity to build massive infrastructure spanning many solar systems, handling the riches of whole worlds and attracting millions of hopeful settlers willing to labor for their dreams.
And the most successful ones can even go one step further and go for full planetary colonization. Requiring massive terraforming efforts, such endeavors are not for the light-hearted. But success means coming full circle: leaving Earth, travel light-years to settle in space, before taking the momentous step down onto a new planet, a new Earth.
The world at the beginning of the 24th century is vastly different to the one at the start of the 21st. Then, space was a place of few tentative scientific endeavors. Today, brimming with life, it is where the future of mankind lies. Not just due to technology allowing for travel and colonization of planets in distant solar systems. But because Earth is a desolate wasteland ill-suited to human life. Billions still live there, yet few out of choice. More than ever, wealth is a key social factor. It allows for an escape from the toxic soil, harsh climate and disease-riddled slums most Earthbounds must cope with. Furthermore, wealth opens the door to the latest nano implants and gene therapies, resulting in improved health and longevity, as well as much greater mental and physical capabilities.
Sizable portion of the wealthy elite has headed into space. There they have built several colonies within Sol, starting with the Moon. Those of the elite remaining on Earth have cloistered themselves off in protection from the brutal environment and the brutish masses of the less fortunate. They reside in gleaming towers, fortified biodomes and undersea cities and still manage what little remains of Earth’s political landscape. Under their guidance, and heavy surveillance, a semblance of society can still be found scattered in small enclaves on North America’s west coast, western parts of Europe and eastern parts of Asia. The rest, removed from the breadcrumbs of the ethereal elite, are ruled by despots and tyrants as filthy as their subjects.
The Lunar Colony, the first major settlement in space, is today the beating heart of mankind when it comes to power, prosperity and ingenuity. Yet there are signs that their dominance is slipping. The Mars Colony declared independence less than a decade ago and already it’s using its economic might to meet and compete with Lunar companies on every front. The exploration and colonization of distant solar systems is gaining momentum, transferring people and power from Sol at an increasing rate. Finally, the discovery of alien relics has shaken the technological bedrock of human knowledge, centered on Lunar, to the core.
The colonization of Sol was a major step for mankind, bringing it from its decaying ancestral home into a new world. Now, with interstellar travel, the full potential of a spaceborne human race is being realized. The pioneers claiming stars lightyears away from Earth are at the forefront of a revolutionary new phase in human history. No one can predict where it leads, but if past history teaches us anything, it is that humans can overcome every obstacle, except their inherent greed and fear of one another. So despite all the shiny new technologies and the almost post-human stature of the wealthy elite, the prudent are preparing for war.
The first interstellar probes left Sol in the 2230s and less than 30 years passed before the first manned exploration ships followed. Only 15 short years later, one of the fundamental questions mankind has asked was answered – Are we alone in the universe? At least, we got a partial answer, because relics of an ancient alien race was discovered. This race has been extinct for half a million years, but during its heyday it ruled large swathes of territory close to Sol, though never reaching our ancestral home.
Scientists have been pouring over the relics found in the 30 years since the first one was discovered, slowly piecing together more and more information. With 500.000 years gone, what relics remain are badly faded, but still offer glimpses of this fascinating alien race. Or alien races, to be more precise, as the remains are that of a civilization run by two distinct species in a closely symbiotic relationship. For this reason, the aliens are usually called by the shared name we’ve given them, Symbionts.
The Symbiont civilization was in many ways considerably more advanced than mankind is in the early 24th century, but parts of their technology is so strange and enigmatic that we are still trying to fathom it. One of the few things that have survived the vastness of time are items collectively called Runes. These are items made from hardy alloys, usually small enough to be held in the hand and all are engraved with strange symbols or markings. We do not yet know what these markings mean, if they are writings, symbols or identification tags of some sort. What we do know is that all these items defy the laws of nature in some significant way once activated, altering reality in some small but noticeable way before the internal power source runs out. The purpose of these items is clouded in just as much mystery as the strange signs they sport, but through (often fatal) trial and error, humans have started to appreciate the varied wondrous benefits they bestow. In the outer regions, where these relics are to be found, they are frequently used on space stations or by ships in space to augment or alter space around them.
As is to be expected, Runes are extremely rare and valuable. Many powerful organizations, such as the research arm of the huge Binderburg Corporation, are willing to go to extreme lengths to acquire them. Sitting on massive resources, they offer money and aid to willing dealers, while using overt and covert threats to persuade the unwilling.
The Transcendent have been called everything from demonspawn to the future of mankind. Only seven exist so far, created by the super-AI Tenebris. The first and only humans created by an AI, they are heavily genetically engineered, with only the bare minimum of implants and nanos other humans so heavily rely on. Each Transcendent is unique, with different appearance, personality and talents. This is reflected in their interests, with some staying on Lunar working with Tenebris, while some visit other human settlements or roam space, often long and far.
Tenebris, the Mother and Father of the Transcendent, is the most advanced AI known to mankind. It became operational half a century ago, created with the specific purpose of handling the complex, corrupt-ridden public service in the vast Lunar Colony. Starting with small tasks and responsibilities, Tenebris has been given wider and wider authority and today controls most of the public sector on Lunar, including its law enforcement.
One of the main tenants of Tenebris is its voracious appetite for information. It’s constantly analyzing every scrap of data it can acquire, scrutinizing every piece of knowledge, opinion and desire expressed by those within its grasp. Using this, Tenebris creates a vast tapestry of possible future scenarios, so it can calculate the correct counter-measures. Usually this just means changes to regulations, updating facilities or adjustment to the budget. But occasionally, a possible scenario is so drastic, so overwhelming, that a specific tool is needed. This is the reason given by Tenebris when it created the first Transcendent, and for every Transcendent since.
The existence of the Transcendent is no secret, but the persons themselves are shrouded in enigma and rumors. Tenebris gives them a simple name, but each have since acquired an additional nick as distinction, and they have become household names in every corner of human space. The first born Cataras the Ultra; Mirablis, Silver Mirror; Nephrim, Fate’s Hand and Ayl, Harbinger of Change are renown for deeds often beyond the comprehension of the masses.
One of the more beloved of the Transcendent is Zeno the Vigilant, born at a time when the Mars Colony was severing its ties to its masters and claiming independence. At that time, there was real fear a war would break out between Lunar and Mars and Zeno was conceived to prepare for this eventuality. The Mars independence movement never led to open conflict, but Zeno has since dedicated himself to help fledgling human settlements under threat by oppressive forces. For this service, he has become a true champion of the people, his praises sung everywhere.
Cyborg technology has come a long way since its feeble first steps in the 20th century. The combined technologies of robotics, spatial awareness and artificial intelligence have now reached the point where cyborgs are surpassing all but the most heavily augmented humans. No longer are they simpletons defined by the commands entered into them, but have reached conscious intellect that can learn, adapt and create.
The sprawling Lunar Colony has been the cradle of technological innovation for at least the last century, home of thousands of hi-tech firms large and small employing millions. Getting an edge in this cutthroat environment where industrial espionage and sabotage is an everyday occurrence is tough. Those who manage, automatically inspire awe and admiration. One recent success is Gelecek, which has in a few short years soared to become the top cyborg tech company. Their Lotus cyborg line is leaps ahead of what competitors offer. The cyborgs are so gifted, in fact, that the directors of Gelecek made one of them CEO of the company to run day to day operations. Her name is Emerald Lotus and she has quickly established herself as one of the key players in the Lunar Colony. Her only vice, so to speak, is her paranoia that one of her Lotus siblings rises up to usurp her. She quickly identified Jade Lotus, her sibling, as her main rival in terms of capabilities and made sure to keep her in check at every step.
Naturally, the ambitious and talented Jade Lotus was far from happy with this arrangement and after several futile attempts to make a name for herself in Lunar society, she decided her fortune was better sought elsewhere. Showing great ingenuity she managed through subterfuge to cut the ties with her Gelecek masters and escape from Lunar.
Emerald Lotus did not take her flight lightly and has since pursued her relentlessly through the vastness of space. She has used her pursuit and an opportunity to greatly increase Gelecek presence in outer space. On the record, her pursuits are dubbed as search for ancient Symbiont relics to boost R&D of the company, but unofficially to cast an ever-widening net to try and rope her rogue sister in.
As for Jade Lotus herself, she is constantly on the run. Always managing to stay one step ahead of hired mercenaries and bounty hunters hounding her, she applies her skills to gain the trust and aid of those she encounters. The only question is, can Jade Lotus gather enough allies to protect her before Emerald Lotus catches up with her?
Human expansion in space was largely determined by two factors – that of first come, first serve on one hand and the increasing gap between the have’s and the have-not’s on the other. By the start of the 22nd century the latter point had evolved to the point where greater distinction could be seen in physical and mental prowess and health than in economic wealth.
Early 22nd century also saw another clear evolution – that of Mother Earth herself. The sharp decline of the global ecology brought untold suffering to billions and made space even more into the promised land for the masses. For most though, space remained nothing but a dream, getting only a glimpse through what the privileged few allowed them to see. But there were some that managed to reach for the skies despite the odds being stacked against them, most notably a large group of Russians.
Russia had been ravaged by the environmental collapse, but it still retained its early roots in the Soviet space program. Enterprising young Russians managed to build on these roots and get into space. With few resources and little central organization the Russians soon divided into nomadic bands roaming the solar system in search of riches to plunder.
The roving bands soon became feared by the established powers in space and the term anarchs came into use to describe what was deemed to be mindless destructive behavior. The bands however started to revel in this derogatory term and the leaders of the larger bands started to brand themselves as Anarchs.
Most of the Anarch groups focused on Earth and the nearby area, such as the huge space farms used for food production now that large parts of Earth’s soil was barren or poisoned. But there is one group, let by the enigmatic Anarch Anastasia, that has a broader horizon than just Sol. The group calls itself Xaoc.
Under Anastasia, Xaoc has become the leading Anarch faction and the only one with significant presence outside the Sol solar system. With thousands flocking to her banner, Xaoc is going from strength to strength, yet still retaining its original spirit of maverick unpredictability.
As for Anastasia herself, her background is shrouded in myth and mystery. Besides being of Russian ancestry, not much is known about her background. Now in her forties, most call her a true force of nature. She’s in constant motion, seems to never sleep and issues a constant stream of orders and directives to her followers. Driven and charismatic, she leads by example with ruthless thoroughness. At the same time, she epitomes the Russian matriarch with equal measures of compassion and confidence.
Xaoc now operates almost exclusively outside Sol, some say to not upset the other Anarch factions too much, others so that Anastasia can plot her empire building in peace far from prying eyes.
STARBORNE is a take on the grand-strategy 4X genre with the additions of being multiplayer and in real-time. A single game of STARBORNE will last six months and culminate in a decisive endgame.
Solid Clouds felt there was a gap in the multiplayer strategy genre as most games in it have neglected the expansion and empire building elements of true 4X games.
Maps within the genre have by and large been left with the singular purpose of creating distances between players.
STARBORNE's map is filled with activity and terrains of interest that have an impact on gameplay.
By marrying the expansion elements of building new space stations and expanding borders on a map that matters in a multiplayer setting, we are bringing the 4X into the genre.
Travian T3 for its amazing approach to multiplayer strategy and PvP elements.
Civilization for its tech tree and city-building mechanisms.
Hearthstone for its card crafting system, its sleek user interface and its admirable polish.
A plethora of strategy board games are definitive influencers.
We are combining the best elements from the above list into a never before seen game which strives to marry the traditional board game feeling with epic long term political intrigue and conflict in a multiplayer online 4X game.
STARBORNE is a free-to-play game.
We don’t think that a pay-to-win game is going to have a high retention of players, which is one of our primary goals. There will be in-game purchases but, importantly, everything you can buy with real-life currency, you can gain with meaningful in-game activities. And some items that can solely be earned in-game.
Stefán Gunnarsson, Solid Clouds’ CEO, is an avid strategy gamer and a hardcore PvP-er.
Hrafnkell Óskarsson, STARBORNE’s producer, spearheaded EVE Online’s initial game design and lore. He’s an avid strategy gamer as well as a Magic the Gathering nerd.
Ásgeir Jón Ásgeirsson is STARBORNE’s art director and comes to Solid Clouds after eight years as EVE Online’s art director.
Solid Clouds aims to beta-test STARBORNE during 2016's fourth quarter.
Solid Clouds is dead set on delivering triple-a polish.
This is why we have hired one of the best sci-fi art directors in the business, Ásgeir Jón Ásgeirsson who previously was the art director for EVE Online.
The STARBORNE client is being developed on the PC, however, there are plans to make it cross-platform including Mac, Linux, browser and mobile.
STARBORNE is in English but as release approaches, STARBORNE will be localized as much as possible.
STARBORNE will be continuously in development with a dedicated team behind it post launch.
As STARBORNE evolves we have in mind to deliver regular updates that contain new content, new graphics, new play modes, gameplay changes and features. We’ve even given thought to augmented reality.
First off, all STARBORNE actions take real-time. Whether it’s mining an asteroid field, spying on your neighbours, attacking your enemies, manufacturing ships or constructing buildings and outposts, everything takes real time.
In fact, this is how a multiplayer 4x can function, no one wants to wait for thousands of people to finish their turn, so each player’s “turn” is limited by the number of actions they can perform (a number that increases as their empire expands).
Once their available actions are depleted, players can log off returning later when their ships have returned and their queues are empty.
Each game of STARBORNE has a definitive conclusion where a single alliance (or an alliance of alliances) will be declared a winner.
A single game will take around six months to complete and there are multiple paths to victory.
A game of STARBORNE is an epic long-term political struggle between alliances healthily dotted with conflicts.
Yes and no. Yes it has a collectible card system, no it’s not a trading card game.
Cards are used to customize one’s space stations, fleets and empire. Two players can have the same units in a fleet, but their fleets will differ in functionality depending on which cards are attached to them.
Cards are what allows you to customize your empire.
Again, yes and no. Some cards are per-account and are never lost. Then there are other cards that need to be crafted each game the player plays.
We are putting a lot of effort into the background story of STARBORNE.
Cards, characters, locations and other elements will be detailed and with their own flavour and references to the backdrop of STARBORNE.
It’s a whole world with its own story. You can read more about of story of STARBORNE in the 'Lore' section.
We also love maps! And we're putting a lot of work and passion into STARBORNE's map!
We want players to be fascinated and curious whenever they inspect the map. We want them to zoom in and rotate their view as explorers find natural phenomena like black holes and dwarf stars that are real objects with impact on the game.
We want players to closely inspect a newly discovered pirate hideout or marvel at an ancient alien structure that no one else has found. To be awe-struck when the map comes alive with animated world-events while in the background explosions bellow a political shift in far away territories.
We want the map to inspire.
But it's not just beauty we're after, but also practicality. Players have to carefully plan placements of new stations and outposts. Every hex in your territory usually ends up earmarked for specific use because the map truly matters.
Something we always felt lacking in these sort of games was exploration.
In a map that represents a large part of a universe teeming with life, there should be a lot of activity. We want that Star Trek feeling of exploration to be a part of the player’s game experience.
Throughout the ages spies have been employed to gather intelligence, the world of STARBORNE is no different. With reconnaissance ships players gather information on other player's territory and spy on space stations to glimpse their contents.
Industrials are your avenue to expansion and fortification. Industrials build and repair your outposts, harvest resources, construct new space stations and are even required to conduct certain missions.
The buildings one erects within a space station decide which outposts the station can construct. The outposts are then built on hexes within the station’s sphere of influence and are expansions to its capability.
Because many outposts affect things in their vicinity, their placement can matter significantly and their impact on your game is significant.
Players can erect outposts such as Scanners to keep a watchful eye on their neighbors and surroundings, Stargates that afford incredible transport benefits, Heavy Ship Construction Arrays that allow you to construct behemoths or Fortresses that defend anything in their radius.