Alpha Centauri

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Centauri α is the brightest star in the constellation of Centaurus. It is a binary star system, the third brightest star in the night sky, and the extrasolar star closest to our own besides Proxima Centauri (which may or may not be gravitationally bound to Alpha Centauri). In 2012 an Earth sized planet was discovered in the system.

It's a popular destination in near-future space RPGs.

But you're here because of the vidya gaem "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri" (SMAC), which is not only a strategy game accepted and welcome on /tg/, but the faction leaders in the game are also a meme used in mild role-playing shitposting

The Video Game[edit]

It's the spiritual successor to Civilization 2, and direct predecessor to Civilization 3 since it shares much of of the same dev team. One of the possible ending conditions of the Civilization games is to launch the first colony ship into space -- destination Alpha Centauri. Once they find a habitable planet, the team leaders suffer a political breakdown, culminating in the assassination of the colony ship's captain. Each team leader takes a part of the colony ship and some of the colonists in hibernation, and make planetfall. The game starts with your faction arriving, reviving the colonists for labour, and exploring the new world.

There will never be a sequel to Alpha Centauri because the intellectual property rights are a clusterfuck. But if you really want a spacey 4x game, there's still Galactic Civilizations 2, although unlike SMAC, GC2 is way, way, way the hell soft scifi and doesn't take itself seriously even for a moment. On this subject, SMAC is noted for adhering to science, or at least throwing around sciencey sounding terms quite well. Everything in the setting is just fudging with (then) current understanding of physics to do nifty things. Yes, even the psychic death worms who lay eggs in your brain.

Alternatively, there's Civilization: Beyond Earth, which is, if not a sequel, than at least a game built with the same creative DNA with some of the same concepts. Unfortunately, it's just a watered-down version of Civ V with all traces of character or complexity utterly stripped away. Alas.

There's also Pandora: First Contact, which was quite good and let you shoot black holes at people, but which never really attracted much of a fan base.

The Roleplaying Game[edit]

Steve Jackson Games made a GURPS sourcebook for Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri. The cover has a white border, which is unusual for GURPS splatbooks. You can usually find a scan of this book in 4chan's rapidshares catalog.

Some parts are pretty awesome, some are a little... meh. (The Spartans are generally crazier than they are even in the games.) It actually offers several suggestions for running a game set on Alpha Centauri, including ways to tweak the setting so that multi-faction parties are possible, though its attempts to integrate the "tech-levels" of the game into an overall narrative are a little... over the top.

The Factions[edit]

The elegan/tg/entlefolk, fa/tg/uys and ca/tg/irls will sometimes post to a thread with one of the faction leader portraits and respond in-character for that faction leader. This should help you understand what the fuck they're on about.

SMAC Deirdre.jpg
Gaia's Stepdaughters
Leader: Lady Deirdre Skye (Scottish)
Pacifist, Explorers, Green agenda, hates Free Market
Hippy-dippy freak. Wants to integrate with the existing biology, including the mind-raping local fauna. Still hot. Will mostly leave you alone, so long as you've got a Green economy and don't mind her running her mind-worm boils over your lawn. Probably the canonical winner, since her name's on the game-winning tech.
SMAC Yang.jpg
Human Hive
Leader: Chairman Sheng-ji Yang (Chinese)
Aggressive, Conquerers/Builders, Police State agenda, hates Democracy
Insane totalitarian fuck. TO THE EXXXTREME. Think Mao meets Stalin meets Nietzsche meets Confucius, and you've got a pretty good idea what he's all about. All about everyone being equal and subservient to the whole, even if it requires brain stapling for the greater good. Everyone lives underground, meaning that digging out his blood-tick cities is a pain in the butt. He's a warmongering asshole who will not coexist with anyone who does not share his extremely narrow set of social policies. And that really sucks, because anyone else attempting them is basically committing economic suicide. (Only his faction bonuses allow him to ignore the penalties, and the Hive is still usually pretty broke.)
SMAC Miriam.jpg
Lord's Believers
Leader: Sister Miriam Godwinson (American)
Aggressive, Explorers/Conquerors, Fundamentalist agenda, hates Knowledge-seekers
Totally psycho Christfag bitch who spams demands every turn then declares war the moment you decline. Usually the first faction you fight if you're playing as Zakharov. Fairly strong militarily, but get this, they can't research at all for the first ten turns and take a massive penalty from then on, so Believers are proper fucked if the early game doesn't go Just As Planned. Miriam, in her wisdom, won't accept anything less than complete submission to her every social policy, and is burdened with an AI that will be hyper-aggressive with her rocks-and-sticks little army. This means, she'll either control a gigantic empire that controls half the planet by the time you encounter her, or more hopefully, she'll get hilariously squished out of existence by overwhelming superiority very early on. Just putting her in a game will likely involve Anal circumference going one way or another. Notably the only American representative.
SMAC Morgan.jpg
Morgan Industries
Leader: CEO Nwabudike Morgan (Namibian)
Pacifist, Builders, Free Market agenda, hates Planned Economies
Morgan is all about the Benjamins, and making sure his peeps are living the high life. Problem is he's the kind of greedy asshole who'll happily rape the planet beyond saving to do just that, so the Gaians and the Cult tend to pick fights with him often. Doesn't matter if he succeeds though because THE FREE MARKET WILL FIX IT! He's a black space Jew, a.k.a. the plague, but he won't openly try to slap your shit as long as you're not a dirty commie. One of the few factions that can actually reliably try for the otherwise-wonky "economic" victory, naturally, though even for him it's much easier to go for any of the other win conditions by throwing throwing money at any problems that present themselves until they go away and leave behind supremacy.
SMAC Pravin.jpg
Peacekeeping Forces
Leader: Commissioner Pravin Lal (Indian)
Erratic, no specialists, Democracy agenda, hates Police State
When role-playing in a thread, Pravin will usually say something about "why don't we come to some sort of agreement" and everyone else will agree that Pravin should shut the fuck up. He's a limp-dicked peacenik and thus usually the first to get wiped out, but he's tied with Deidere in being the overall fairest to his people, and he's one of the few leaders whose opinion can't be bought - this motherfucker furiously wanks over the UN Charter and will uphold it, even if you offer him almost everything you have or press an impact rifle up against his braincase. When the worst that can be said of you is that you want to try to clone your dead wife so that the whole "death" thing won't permanently destroy your marriage, you're still the most ethical leader on Planet. Has few real strengths or weaknesses, so his faction is good for beginners to learn the ropes with, though victory with him will ultimately rely on the skill and talent of the player rather than the powers and bonuses of the faction to carry the day.
SMAC Santiago.jpg
Spartan Federation
Leader: Colonel Corazón Santiago (Puerto Rican)
Erratic, Discoverers/Conquerers, Power agenda, hates Wealth
Has plus-four strength. All about military power and how soldiers are superior to soft lazy civvies like you. Most often accused of assassinating the colony ship's captain, despite a complete lack of proof and claiming, for once, she didn't kill anybody. She's a psychopathic douchenozzle and often gets herself killed when she picks a fight with too many people at once, and is completely suspicious of anyone who picks a "value" other than "power." That said, if you beat her up and she surrenders, she actually means it, and will loyally serve you for the rest of the game. Has a brutal early-game, since her troops have super-morale and level up quickly, but needs to get some extra tech to avoid turning into a has-been ex-superpower being picked off by inches before the game's out. More-or-less obliged to try to win by beating the shit out of everyone else too, which gives her some predictability problems, though at least she's not in quite as bad of shape as Miriam on that score.
SMAC Zakharov.jpg
University of Planet
Leader: Academician Prokhor Zakharov (Russian)
Erratic, Researchers, Knowledge-seeking agenda, hates Fundamentalists
Techno-fetish nerd with all the toys (all of them), thus beloved of the denizens of /tg/ and /v/. He and Miriam fight like cats and dogs -- if only they'd finally get a room and fuck, but she's an ugly bitch and he's a unwashed dweeb, so it'll never work out. Prone to ranting about misconceptions of SCIENCE! and the evils of brain-rotting superstition while indulging in the occasional horrifyingly-unethical live vivisection. Particularly vulnerable to backdoor probing until he gets his secret security projects, and then those pesky probe teams will cry.

The expansion pack Alien Crossfire upped the ante by adding new factions so criminally unbalanced they made the others obsolete.

Ulrik Svensgaard.jpg
Nautilus Pirates
Leader: Ulrik Svensgaard (American)
Agressive, Explorers, Power agenda
Annoying anarchist douche desperately trying to be Captain Nemo while drunkenly cosplaying as a classical pirate. Piratical raiders who start in the ocean unchallenged. If played by the AI they will reach epidemic levels of city expansion before you can field a navy, making conquering their strung out train wreck of an empire almost as bad as ignoring it - unless you've done your research, have a decent army, or declare him a non-person to gang up on.
Cha Dawn.jpg
Cult of Planet
Leader: Cha Dawn (Unknown)
Erratic, Discoverers/Conquerers, Green agenda, hates Wealth
Batshit loopy super hippies led by a psychic child of the corn who makes Deirdre look like Morgan. Basically what would happen if PETA managed to take control of a country. Takes over for Lal as the first person to get hilariously rolled out in the expansion unless he finds some mind worms double quick. If foolishly allowed to live unmolested they will turn the game into a tentacle rape simulator for any player foolish enough to have an economy. Of course mind worms become easy-peasy late game, so laugh as he funnels free experience points into your troops.
Sinder Roze.jpg
Data Angels
Leader: Datajack Sinder Roze (Trinidadian)
Erratic, Democracy agenda, hates Power
Basically 4chan in charge of a civilization. Tend to oppose the Believers on principle, because the information wants to be free, baby. Hence the other favourite faction besides Zakharov. Make good allies if you can put up with their practical jokes (read: "anything the probe team can get away with"). Otherwise not all that annoying and they're easily ground into the dirt by a half competent military if they get uppity.
Aki Zeta-5.jpg
Cybernetic Consciousness
Leader: Prime Function Aki Zeta 5 (Norwegian)
Erratic, Discoverers, Cybernetic agenda, hates Fundamentalism
Asexual cyborg whose half-robot populace has trouble getting themselves to make babies, but will be teching on towards victory while you're still trying to bang rocks together. Will cheerfully befriend you early on and trade tech to you at very reasonable prices for most of the game, until you turn down the perfectly reasonable late game option of subsuming your entire civilization into a cybernetic collective. Tends to skimp on her military, deal with her by drowning her in corpses, the manly way. If playing as her, her tech-looting powers ironically make military expansion one of your more-viable strategies.
Foreman Domai.jpg
Free Drones
Leader: Foreman Domai (Australian)
Erratic, Builder, Eudaimonic agenda
A badass Australian ex-Drone who lead a slave-revolt out from under Yang to build a less crazy, more bullshit overpowered version of the Hive. Can crap out an entire continent's worth of infrastructure before you build your third city. Oh, and after you meet him you start getting communist revolutions instead of drone riots. Fun. He'll probably still be swinging around lasers while you're blasting things with cosmic strings though, assuming you don't give him the time to build enough Labs to make that penalty meaningless. He and Aki Zeta-5 hate each other late game almost as much as they want to bone each other for the rest of the game, and from their murderous hatefuck of an alliance you will know pain, as their problems are basically mirror-images of one another. The probable canon winner of the expansion story, given his name's (paradoxically) on the all-powerful cosmic-string-resonance supergun.
Lular Hminee.jpg
Manifold Caretakers
Leader: Guardian Lular H'minee
Aggressive, prevent transcendence agenda, hates Manifold Usurpers
Planet's absentee landlords, who have come back after a teensy weensy problem with the other manifold reaching sentience and killing everything within three systems. She'll drop everything to try to murder the everliving shit out of anybody who tries to go for the Transcendence victory, because she has firsthand experience in exactly what that kinda shit will lead up to. Ridiculously overpowered in most regards, they are balanced by the fact that they aren't UN members and are automatically hostile to the Manifold Usurpers. Oh what's that? That last one never made it into the multiplayer game due to a bug? Thanks Firaxis.
Judaa Marr.jpg
Manifold Usurpers
Leader: Usurper Judaa Marr
Aggressive, transcendence agenda, hates Manifold Caretakers
The second alien race and resident that guy. Wants to hijack Planet's evolution and use it to turn his faction (and yours too, Earthman, if you jump on this alliance for the low-low price of your total submission!) into a a single hive-minded psionic god. Plays as more of a rip and tear marauding-barbarian type to H'minee's turtling builder, sharing their "weaknesses." Once he allies with Domai and starts feeding him tech, it's fucking over. Enjoy your web-mouthed alien overlords.

Gallery[edit]

Links[edit]

You know how you said that there wouldn't be a second? Think aga- its Noblebright and meh: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKew81njs5w