Well, its been a while since the last update. The Arborian Rangers are still lined up in parade formation on the gaming table, waiting for their next deployment. My gaming interests wander, as I'm sure most readers can understand. Instead of 40k, I've been working diligently on a Sandbox RPG universe.
1) Sandbox Universe: I'll be using a combination of the Mongoose Traveller rules system and Stars Without Number settling to create the sandbox. The Stars Without Number setting takes place at the end of a 600 year dark age: humanity's empire, the Terran Mandate, was destroyed after the collapse of their Psion powered jumpgates.The PCs would be the crew of the first FTL capable space vessel produced by a civilization in over 600 years. Much of the campaign would consist of making contact with other civilizations, both primitive human worlds and most advanced ones. I will be stealing a few concepts from 40k: specifically the idea of a Standard Construction Template. This will help to explain why most worlds have similar equipment and space vessels: they are all based on the same basic plans, all be it with some differences.
2) "Troupe-Style" Character Management: I'd like to explore the multi player-character strategy known as "troupe" style. Each player controls three or so separate characters, but not at the same time. The PCs are grouped by type and mission. From Stars Without Number: Skyward Steel: "You could even have each player play three different characters – one lowly crewman each, one mid– ranking officer, and one of the command staff. This ‘troupe–style play’ puts the decisions in the hands of the characters, but also ensures that they can get up close and personal with the action. As the ship is the centre of the game, characters can leave, be replaced or even killed without the campaign coming to a halt."
3) Large-Ship Universe: The troupe-style game also allows the referee to eliminate a pet peeve of mine: the Small Ship Universe. Of all the speculative fiction out there, I feel like Babylon 5's vision for space-flight was the most plausible. Interstellar voyages shouldn't be as simple as hiring a space smuggler in the local bar and paying him $10,000. Vessels in B5 were massive, over 1km long, and had long crews and huge engines. I'll be basing a lot of the space vessels off of (AoG's now defunct) B5 Wars vessels. Initially, only the largest capital-size vessels will be capable of Interstellar voyages. As technology levels rise, smaller vessels will be able to make interstellar voyages. Also, instead of using NAVAL ranks and terminology for spaceflight, I'll be using Air Force ranks, like Stargate SG-1 or Transhuman Space. Wet Navy in SPACE!!!! is just so cliche.
4) Interplanetary Trade vs Interstellar Trade: In the sandbox universe, most speculative trade will be interplanetary. Civilian vessels will, for the most part, be limited to trading between the primary world and factional capital, and the various resource worlds. Obviously, there will still be threats like radiation storms, rogue asteroids, and Spaz Piratez. Interstellar Trade will occur, but only with the most valuable (in terms of price-to-mass ratio) cargoes, and will usually be a mission offered by a patron.