It is 2316 A.D. and humanity is almost extinct.
The 22nd and 23rd Centuries saw mankind scatter across the stars. Carried by superluminal starships that traversed in weeks or months distances that took light several years, humanity established colonies on hundreds of worlds. Terraformation efforts transformed even the most sterile and lifeless rocks into verdant garden worlds. The human population, buoyed by the bounty of these new earthlike worlds, exploded. For a time, it had seemed that Man had surpassed the Great Filter - that postulated barrier that explained the lack of intelligent life throughout the stars.
In the early 23rd Century, reports surfaced of a new illness affecting sparsely-populated colony worlds on the fringe of settled space. It manifested first as throbbing blisters and lesions and terminated in horrifying and gruesome death with liquefied flesh sloughing from bone. But worst of all, it was wildly contagious. The Spanish-speaking colonists of those outer worlds called it viruela: the Pox.
No one knows where the Pox originally came from. Some speculate it to a simple alien germ that happened to readily infect Earth life; others claim it to be a superweapon created by a long-dead civilization and unleashed eons later by human prospectors. Whatever its origins, the Pox spread rapidly across the sparsely-populated outer colonies. Like firebrands from a terrible inferno, starships of panicked refugees spread the Pox across the stars, whose crowded holds invariably contained a few latent carriers with slow-burn infections. Screening hundreds of millions of refugees was impossible, and the only option for containing the Pox was strict quarantine. All but the most essential space travel was prohibited, and those world with combat fleets set about hunting down unauthorized vessels and destroying them to prevent the continued spread of the Pox. Worlds with verified outbreaks were blockaded and left to their fate until agonized SOS calls from the surface petered out into radio silence. The more merciful captains and commanders of those blockade fleets authorized orbital nuclear strikes on doomed colonies, in an effort to euthanize at least some of the wretched souls on the surface.
Cruel and heavy-handed as it was, the quarantine was working. Strategists on Earth hoped that in the absence of space travel, the Pox would be isolated to a few dozen infected worlds that could be sterilized with intense nuclear bombardment. But that hope was dashed in 2311 when the Pox came to Earth.
Without warning, a fleet of starships jumped into the solar system and went straight for Earth and Mars. Quarantine Enforcement squadrons were hastily scrambled to dispatch the intruders, only to run straight into a volley of missiles and railgun fire loosed in a surprise volley from the approaching fleet. A chaotic firefight erupted between Quarantine Enforcement and the unidentified vessels somewhere around Saturn. With Earth and Martian fleets engaged in combat, tracking stations throughout the Solar System began tracking new vessels jumping into the system from all directions. Left in isolation, the Pox had evolved radically and developed an intelligence of its own, one capable of laying a trap and outwitting those tasked with defending the 20 billion people living within the Solar System.
In the coming days and hours, the intruding vessels arrived at the various settlements on Jupiter and Saturn's moons and then Earth and Mars. Waves of starships careened through the atmospheres of Earth and Mars, landing just softly enough to not vaporize on impact. From the burning wreckages of crashed vessels emerged beings that had once been human. Masses of oozing poxflesh on disfigured legs hobbled forth from the starships that had carried them, spreading the Pox to every corner of every settled planet and moon orbiting the Sun. In a month, half of the human race had been consumed by the Pox.
Five years have passed since the fall of the Solar System, and nearly every other planet has now been infected. Earth, Mars, and the other terraformed worlds have all fallen. Mankind has been reduced from some 50 billion to a few hundred million or so, scattered across a few dozen worlds too desolate or hostile to support large populations - allowing them to avoid detection by roving Pox ships. Hardscrabble farmsteads, colonized asteroids, smuggler ports, and pirate fortresses are the new bastions of what remains of human civilization. Unsettled survivors live as nomads, scrounging for food and supplies, jumping from planet to planet on jerry-rigged starships in hopes of staying one step ahead of the Pox. A nomad's life is hard and unforgiving, but it offers freedom from those in control of the settlements; as they tend to use violent and unscrupulous means to retain control. Settlements are relatively safe in the short term, but only the most delusional will feel any sense of permanent security in a populated area. After all, settlements go dark all the time.
Regardless of how you feel about these civilized places, that is currently where you are. You - or perhaps you and your associates - find yourself in Crucible - a smuggler's spaceport nestled within an impact crater on a dust world of the same name. It accommodates a few thousand people - a large settlement by post-Pox standards. You might be a starship pilot, looking through a scrapheap for a replacement part to get your ship up and running again, or perhaps a mercenary captain looking for his next job? Space pirate? Slave? Android?
Regardless of your history and lot in life, something brought you here to Crucible. And if you're smart, you'd be looking to get out.
Thanks for your interest so far. I'm departing from my typical Nation-centric RP this time for something a little smaller in scale and perhaps a little less time-intensive. I'm hoping that a more traditional RP format will fit the bill in that regard.
Crucible is a dark sci-fi literate roleplay set in a universe in which humanity has been brought to the edge of extinction by the Pox, an alien disease that turns its victims into grotesque monstrosities. Life for the survivors revolves around avoiding the Pox and, well, surviving. Most industries and supplies were concentrated on densely-populated worlds, and would be virtually suicidal to even set foot on now that they all have raging Pox infestations. Resources are scarce and life is hard. Small clusters of civilization exist, but must remain small in order to prevent detection by starships controlled by the Pox, which seek to infect those few humans that remain. I'm looking for a small group of writers to worldbuild and build a collaborative story. I have a plot in mind, but will also allow the story to progress organically if something else develops. Let me know if you are interested and feel free to ask any questions about the RP or the setting.
Speaking of the setting, this is a hard(ish) sci-fi setting. Weaponry in atmosphere tends to be kinetic in nature (bullets, missiles, etc.). In space, kinetic weapons are still commonly used but energy weapons (lasers, basically) are the weapon of choice if the target is relatively close and there is a direct line of sight between the attacker and target. Starships capable of interstellar travel are quite large (~150'/45m at the smallest) and are expensive - or at least they were when money meant anything.
Speaking of money, there is no central currency in existence. Purchases are made through barter, though in some settlements some small, relatively-valuable items are used as stand-ins for money. In Crucible, 9 mm bullets are used for small purchases (a drink from the bar, street food, etc.) and 8 oz/200 mL flasks of whiskey/vodka are worth about 5-7 bullets. For larger purchases, buyers and sellers tend to barter directly and throw in some whiskey or bullets to reach an agreement.
Settlements in this setting are bleak and ridden with crime and corruption. Even so, they are the closest thing to safety. There are homesteaders and hermits living in remote corners of habitable worlds, eking a living from the hostile alien environment. There is freedom in the wild, but nobody is coming to save you from injury, raiders, or hostile wildlife out in the wilderness. Others choose a more nomadic life, drifting through the stars in search of greener pastures, but ships will always need repairs and supplies to continue functioning. A nomadic life offers some freedom as well, but pirates and Pox ships are an ever-present danger.