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The Dark Times (Mass Effect AU - Renegade Reinterpretations)

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Tell me if you've heard this tale before. A young species develops and grows, tentatively reaching into the empty space past its own atmosphere. Wonder and excitement follow the discovery the proof of a long dead race. The species, emboldened and enabled by the discovery and technology within, expands even further across the stars and the galaxy itself. It settles colonies, it explores, and for a generation it is a golden age of discovery and peace.

And then it makes First Contact, and enters into a new era. Seemingly without thinking, the calendar changes. The After Contact age has begun.

If you identified this young species as Humanity, you are correct. And sadly, that will probably be all that meets your expectation: for first impressions are vital and for all that the Turians were an unprovoked aggressor, they were an honorable aggressor. But these aliens were not Turians, but Batarians. The fall of Shaxni was not in an occupation, but in the sack and enslavement of the entire colony. And General Williams was not soon dragged in chains to face a court marshal by a victorious Alliance, but dragged in chains into the mines to work as a slave for a half-century.

There is no miraculous catch up, of a species with not even thirty years of development matching another's hundreds or even thousands of years of technological mastery. There is no honorable resolution. There is not even an intervention by the Council, not until the end one hundred and thirteen years later. Even that is not as you might wish.

This is the darkest century of human history. This is the catalyst that changed and defined the Human race as it emerged upon the galactic stage. This is not a happy story, or a story of glory, or even a particularly pleasant one. It is, at heart, a Renegade's story, of one race rising up defying a galaxy's expectations.

This is the First Contact War, and war and history are rarely pleasant.

The above is the basis for the Genesys setting that I'll be running. My focus is going to be on the first forty years, during a time when humanity is, to quote Sam Jackson, "hopelessly, hilariously outgunned."

The characters won't likely live through more than a few missions, either killed (if they're lucky) or captured and enslaved. The weakest enemies will be Rivals, even their bargain bin scrap generations more advanced than anything the PCs have. The focus of adventures won't be combat victories, but sabotage, information, and obtaining technology for the scientists to study and reverse engineer.

I'll be homebrewing Biotic power trees more akin to Force Powers to tie into the flavor of the source material: biotics being one of the few ways for humans to match the batarians without 12+ to 1 odds. For my first few sessions, it will be early in the conflict, before humanity has many biotics.

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