Whilst in the shower an idea for a the opening sequence of a new roleplaying game campaign popped into my head.
Earth is burned out and used up; a toxic graveyard. To survive, humanity fled to the stars, the trouble is, they had no idea where they should go. To maximise the chances of someone finding somewhere habitable, humanity sent out a huge number of ships, hundreds of thousands exploring it every direction. The humans on board would sleep, waking up when the computers detected anything of interest.
However, spreading out like this wouldn’t help anyone. With thousands of ships with small crews, even if one did find a new home, they couldn’t start a new population and the distances involved means that communication with the others would take far too long, and the other ships would never arrive before those first explorers were long dead.
That would be a problem, if not for the Gates. In the last days of Earth, humanity invented the Gates, wormholes. The trouble is, the science was far from complete. The technology could create wormholes, given enough energy, but producing that amount of energy was not easy and would require multiple, large power plants, certainly not something which could be transported on a ship. Instead, the Gates all ran in low power mode, ready to connect to an active wormhole as soon as one could be powered up. When a ship found a suitable planet, it could be landed and converted into a set of automated factories that could build the required power plants from local resources, power the Gate and bring everyone there instantly.
At least, that was the plan. The players wake up from suspended animation and that means that either a wormhole has connected to their Gate, or they’ve found a new home for humanity. Exciting times!
The players get to the bridge and find something strange. There are no stars, no anything, outside. All sensors report nothingness, not even the background radiation of deep space. Equally if not more concerning, the Gate is activated, but it’s not connecting to an existing wormhole… it’s creating one! That should be impossible given the power requirements - the ship just doesn’t have the capability to support it.
Thus, the game starts with multiple mysteries; a strange, empty void and an impossibly active Gate. What will the players do?