Considering filling in "the gap"


General Discussion


Outside of a homebrew campaign I've started about Earth in a Starfinder universe, I've bought all the Starfinder products and have been reading them and am interested in their universe.
However, I can't get around "the gap" ... it's a deal killer for me to campaign in ...

It's described as: a recent phenomenon affecting all the memories and records across the multiverse. All memories and records of the planet Golarion were removed from all of the multiverse's inhabitants along with all memories of an indeterminate number of years.

This strikes me as incredibly short-sighted for a game. How much of great fantasy fiction is based on history ...
When I did my "Earth in Starfinder" campaign, the most fascinating part was creating a 2,000 plus years of history and how it all led up to the current universe. And that history is all great for roleplaying mission threads.

The Pact Worlds have 300 years of history ... the rule book says the universe has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years but it's unclear how much of that is Pathfinder years and how much of that would be the genesis of the Starfinder timeline ...

So I want to do an alternate history ... where "the gap" is filled in ... but I'm not quite sure where to begin.
Do I bring back Golarion as a regular world -- perhaps being what Coruscant is to Star Wars?

How do I try to estimate how many years of history were erased by "The Gap?"

Any tips/advice is appreciated.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The Gap exists partly to protect against spoilers for the Pathfiner APs. Ancient Golarion history (presumably at some point before the start of RotRL) is still known.

My head-canon is that the Gap is somehow directly related to the death of Aroden about 100 years before RotRL begins. Anything up to his death is still recorded somewhere, but anything after is lost to the Gap.


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The other likely reason is to put a limit on how much universe knowledge Starfinder writers have to have. Limiting their pool of writers to the diehard fans isn't a winning move for most publishers.

Earth's example suggests that you can go from the Renaissance to spaceflight in 4 centuries, amd with suitable magitech from spaceflight to Starfinder could easily be the same or less.


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Tom Gantert 146 wrote:

How do I try to estimate how many years of history were erased by "The Gap?"

Any tips/advice is appreciated.

In the against the aeon throne adventure path, it is revealed that the official Azlanti calendar dates the creation of the Aeon Throne as 1777 years ago. It was known to be constructed during the gap, putting a minimum duration of 1400 and a bit years.

The AP points out that there’s no corroborating records to justify that though, so it’s not definitive.

In that same AP there is a creature that was on a pre-gap mission and that is stated to have occurred “several centuries ago” (the latter being notes to the DM, not some kind of in lore fragment). Perhaps you could view the choice of several centuries rather than several Millenia as some kind of upper limit?

Putting those together I might guess 1500-2000 years of history was lost to the gap.


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Tom Gantert 146 wrote:
So I want to do an alternate history ... where "the gap" is filled in ... but I'm not quite sure where to begin. Do I bring back Golarion as a regular world -- perhaps being what Coruscant is to Star Wars?

I wouldn’t. I think the loss of Golarion and the creation of Absalom Station - continuing to house the starstone is a pretty significant canonical fact.

If I were to fill in the gap, I would come up with an explanation of that fact, rather than rewriting the current canon.


Quote:
When I did my "Earth in Starfinder" campaign, the most fascinating part was creating a 2,000 plus years of history and how it all led up to the current universe. And that history is all great for roleplaying mission threads.

A brief explanation of why the gap is necessary...

But were you also trying to run a 20th century global politics game at the same time? It's harder to write that timeline on the future end if the PCs might mess up bad enough to screw with something.

(It just being you i suppose you could live in a future where the past keeps changing on you...but that would be WAY harder across multiple authors.)

A few considerations the voices in my brain tell me

Absolom station being a thing is a plot point on occasion. Although if i wanted to put a space station in orbit with system wide defense system death lasers grabbing the god rock out of absolom and hooking it up to the station would be a good idea. The ability to blip back to absolom station in 1d6 days is so important for space travel that Golarion is probably just known as "that planet absolom station is orbiting" the way people think new york state is that state that has new york city. This lets you seamlessly have golarion there but explains the narative focus on the station.

A good place to start filling in is the end of the adventure paths. The runelords were defeated, Taldor got over caring which way the plumbing went, the runelords were fefeated again.

You may also want to have a bad ending or two where a large country small continent is now just "something really bad happened here..." cheliax is legally owned and operated by devils completely seperate from the rest of golarion and the pact worlds. A large section of the mawangi expanse has warning beacons on it that read "abandon all hope ye who enter here: if you pass this you're paging charles darwin"


Arutema wrote:

The Gap exists partly to protect against spoilers for the Pathfiner APs. Ancient Golarion history (presumably at some point before the start of RotRL) is still known.

My head-canon is that the Gap is somehow directly related to the death of Aroden about 100 years before RotRL begins. Anything up to his death is still recorded somewhere, but anything after is lost to the Gap.

I wouldn't say it is there to protect from spoilers (or at least mainly so) but to not invalidate the home campaigns of the GM when Starfinder assumes a different outcome than what the GM had in his home campaign (or did his own stuff instead of following the APs)

After all a lot of SF players likely also play or have played PF.

The only definitive information in SF about a PF AP is the status of Casandalee, or?

But that also means it is perfectly viable to not have the gap in your home game and simply assume that whatever happened in your PF games is the real history. (If you did not play PF it gets a bit more tricky as you would have to invent history from scratch).

You would't even need to transport the Starstone to Absolom station and instead leave it on the planet. Drift wont let you crash into the planet, so you would arrive in orbit either way and the station is the most logical place to dock for travellers.


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Filling in the Gap?

Okay, remember D20 Modern? Take that, add Elves, set it on Absalom. Boom. Welcome to Golarion Modern.


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To me, the reason that the gap exists & that Golarion is gone are two different but interconnected things.

Golarion is gone because Paizo clearly does not want any one planet dominating the setting in terms of importance. Absolom Station is an important hub and probably the single most important place in the setting from our perspective, but it's still just one space station in a larger galaxy. Paizo clearly wants this to be a planet hopping setting that could take place anywhere. If Golarion was still there, then it would have to dominate because we'd have to have that detailed history of how the world shifted and changed as it went through industrialization & modernization, and what that end result was, and that would choke out information on the other parts of the setting that Pazio clearly wants to shine a light on.

Even now, in Pathfinder there's more detailed information on small & frankly insignificant villages that we happen to start or pass through in a given adventure path than Starfinder has provided us on, for example, Arkanen, a full Pact Worlds member with a high population & multiple arcane universities.

The Gap being there, I think serves a couple different purposes. I think it's less about protecting people's home campaign canon by avoiding saying this, that, or the other happened and more about protecting everyone who cares about that from the sad truth; whatever happened in your home campaign is irrelevant because the march of time is going to render it a foot note in history, regardless. Empires rise and fall, borders shift, societies & cultures change, and your epic adventures are nothing more than an AP history exam in the class rooms of a culture that no one on Golarion could have predicted would arise.

And I imagine part of that comes from them just frankly not wanting to write how that plays out. They don't want to touch the hard issues of what colonialism, imperialism, industrialization, and modernization really look like and they don't want to white wash those things either, damned if you do, damned if you don't, so skip over it and let people draw their own conclusions.

And that again ends up putting an undue focus on Golarion when that's not the direction they want to go in.

Which brings me to the point that I think is the most important and the biggest reason the Gap exists; what happened during it doesn't matter. We're not looking back, we're looking forward, on into the future. We're given just enough context to understand where we are right now, who all the players are, how we all got here, and what motivates them to put us in this situation. They don't want us to get lost in the weeds of history, they want us to focus on the here, the now, and where we're going as opposed to where we've been.

Not to mention it's convenient for little things like "hobgoblins decided the whole, hating arcane magic thing was stupid and just decided not to do that anymore" and "elves are suspicious of everyone and are going all North Korea on us because they don't know who to trust" plot elements they wanted to take.


thanks for all the input, after reading it all, I have decided to drop my plans to "fill the gap" and will think about just creating a corner of the universe in the existing canon universe put out by Paizo


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FormerFiend wrote:
The Gap being there, I think serves a couple different purposes. I think it's less about protecting people's home campaign canon by avoiding saying this, that, or the other happened and more about protecting everyone who cares about that from the sad truth; whatever happened in your home campaign is irrelevant because the march of time is going to render it a foot note in history, regardless. Empires rise and fall, borders shift, societies & cultures change, and your epic adventures are nothing more than an AP history exam in the class rooms of a culture that no one on Golarion could have predicted would arise.And I imagine part of that comes from them just frankly not wanting to write how that plays out. They don't want to touch the hard issues of what colonialism, imperialism, industrialization, and modernization really look like and they don't want to white wash those things either, damned if you do, damned if you don't, so skip over it and let people draw their own conclusions.

Though it's worth remembering that at least in some cases that's true only because your epic adventure did succeed: The Runelords did not return and conquer all, Golarion wasn't devoured by Xhamen-Dor or trapped in Irrisen's Eternal Winter. Failure mode for some of the APs is pretty catastrophic. Others are more just local or political and would likely be footnotes regardless as you suggest.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

In all seriousness,

I would recommend against filling in the Gap because it works great from the idea of a storytelling perspective.

I've always taken Paizo's two settings, Pathfinder and Starfinder, as two excellent metaphors for our own world.

Pathfinder is Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It's a collection of countries and regions that are both blessed and burdened with thousands of years of history and the simmering racial and political tensions that come from centuries of close proximity.

Starfinder is Canada, The US, Australia, Central and South America. It's a world with relatively no ancient history and a fresh, young look at the world (again, relatively speaking). It has the potential to be peaceful...

But it's not, because even in that short three hundred to four hundred year period, the Pact Worlds has been burdened by horrible tragedies that has made peace impossible.


Tom Gantert 146 wrote:
thanks for all the input, after reading it all, I have decided to drop my plans to "fill the gap" and will think about just creating a corner of the universe in the existing canon universe put out by Paizo

I will say, at the risk of being presumptuous about how much my post in particular influenced you, that I don't want to discourage you from a project to fill in the gap for your own home game. I was simply arguing why I disagree with the assertion that it as a mistake on Paizo's part not to do so in the publishing. I might have gotten a bit carried away on that.

If it would help your own enjoyment of the setting & game, then, by all means, brainstorm & home brew a history of the Gap period.

That being said there's only so much of such an undertaking one can advise on. History is in many ways unpredictable; it's a weird mesh of cultural moods and movements that catch fire and make things inevitable and the actions of exceptional individuals that show up & derail everything, for better or worse.

And you've got hundreds if not thousands of years of that happening on dozens of planets & moons in the Pact Worlds system alone.


FormerFiend wrote:

If it would help your own enjoyment of the setting & game, then, by all means, brainstorm & home brew a history of the Gap period.

That being said there's only so much of such an undertaking one can advise on. History is in many ways unpredictable; it's a weird mesh of cultural moods and movements that catch fire and make things inevitable and the actions of exceptional individuals that show up & derail everything, for better or worse.

And you've got hundreds if not thousands of years of that happening on dozens of planets & moons in the Pact Worlds system alone.

Of course that's true for the history of any setting. It might even be more awkward with a "Gap", since the stuff all still happened and still led to the current situation, it's just that no one knows about it.

As a setting designer, you still have to know what happened and why or just handwave it all away.

Most of the time, in an RPG setting, the details of the history don't really matter - unless they're the focus of a particular campaign/adventure. In which case, they get fleshed out as needed.


Tom Gantert 146 wrote:

So I want to do an alternate history ... where "the gap" is filled in ... but I'm not quite sure where to begin.

Do I bring back Golarion as a regular world -- perhaps being what Coruscant is to Star Wars?

How do I try to estimate how many years of history were erased by "The Gap?"

Though I understand the reasoning behind it, the Gap isn't how I would have approached the problem either, personally. If you're trying to fill it in, there are hints at what seem to be about the 3 - 5 millennia that are lost therein.

The easiest way to gather those hints is to pick up the Distant Worlds Pathfinder supplement and compare the settings therein to the Starfinder setting in the CRB and in Pact Worlds. The results provide some pretty clear hints at what was going on, at least in loose outline, in the interim (and suggestions for certain weird mysteries about what happened where you can fill in the blanks yourself).

Another, IMO rather easier, way to introduce deep history into the setting is to simply go out into the Vast, create something with a detailed pre-Gap history of your own invention and plunge the players into that. Sci-fi and science fantasy are well-suited to epic storylines about Big Dumb Objects, weird alien phenomena and ancient lost civilizations on time scales far beyond anything fantasy tends to be comfortable with. You can throw your players into dramas hundreds of thousands or millions of years in the making without having to painstakingly recreate Golarian history. That's the approach I prefer; it also has the virtue of preserving some of the more weird and interesting story options that the Gap does offer (and it does).

Or of course, you can just make your own custom setting and ignore the Gap or be deliberately vague about it. I'm doing that for my next campaign, but that's mostly because I want to be able to eventually publish it as third-party content. I don't know that I would do it for something that's strictly a home game.


It was my impression that 'The gap' exists to give a reason for technology to have risen.

If you can just *do* everything with magic, why bother developing technology that does the same thing?


...so people who can't use magic can also do the thing?


The point of The Gap IS the flexibility that it allows. Every adventure has a new piece of history you can discover about wherever you've gone. For every new world you travel to, you have a different story for how they perceived and dealt with the gap. Looking at some of the existing adventures released by Paizo can give you a really good sense of how that tool can be used for really fantastic storytelling and gives the adventurers a long-term mystery to piece together.

Calling it "short-sighted" is, ironically, a bit short sighted, yourself.


I get the OP's objection. It's worth keeping in mind that the Gap opens up storytelling possibilities, but unavoidably there are some it forecloses. It's a tradeoff not everyone is obligated to like, though it hasn't been a dealbreaker for me.

ForeverQueen wrote:
It was my impression that 'The gap' exists to give a reason for technology to have risen.

Technology was already rising in Pathfinder before the Gap happened. Starfinder just makes it way more ubiquitous and central to the setting. It's basically a continuity device, as others have mentioned.


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Also, Starfinder doesn't use technology "instead of" magic, it uses technology and magic interchangeably and as one. Magic is fully integrated into the infrastructure and engineering, such that your cellphone and laser pistol? Have magical parts and processes in their operation.

Don't confuse "replacing spellcasters" with "replacing magic".


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Metaphysician wrote:
Also, Starfinder doesn't use technology "instead of" magic, it uses technology and magic interchangeably and as one. Magic is fully integrated into the infrastructure and engineering, such that your cellphone and laser pistol? Have magical parts and processes in their operation.

I thought that was the place of hybrid items.

I would consider communicators and laser pistols as pure technology.

Wayfinders

Opinion.
I like the Gap for some of the reasons mentioned above, and because it makes it easier for players old and new to pick up history.

1. For comparison - reality.
First, consider real life: we have a universe that is roughly 13.8 billion years old, some two trillion galaxies whose distribution is smooth at distances of more than 300 million light-years (the "End of Greatness"), a giant galaxy cluster of some 100,000 galaxies in which our own Local Group lies embedded ("Laniakea"), and our Local Group of some 52 smaller galaxies and dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way and our nearby, larger neighbor, Andromeda (with which we'll merge about the time our Sun turns to a red giant, 4 to 5 billion years from now).

Our own Milky Way has 200 to 400 billion stars in a disc a thousand light years through and a hundred thousand light years across. Our solar system and homeworld orbit about two-thirds out from the galactic center of Sagittarius A*, taking 225 to 250 million years for a "galactic year." Our solar system is 4.5 billion years old but our planet didn't even have free oxygen until it was half that age and the Great Oxygen Catastrophe happened. We didn't even see things like trilobites or the predecessors of vertebrates until 540 million years ago or so in the Cambrian evolutionary explosion of life... right about the same time something paved most of Venus flat into rolling plains and plateaus of basalt (the continent-like highlands of Ishtar Terra and Aphrodite Terra only make up 8% of its surface, unlike our continents at 24% of the surface, and the surface atmosphere exists at 90 times our sea level pressure and at temperatures that melt lead).

That's great stuff if you're playing in the universe of The Expanse, but in my mind it's waaaay overwhelming for Starfinder (and the Golarion system is in a far away but similar galaxy to our own).

2. How I hand-wave it.
We know that the Pathfinder Society and others did some pretty risky things with time travel and cross-time stuff between the time of Azlant and Thassilon and its "present day" in the Age of Lost Omens about a century after Aroden went missing and presumed dead. And we know that self-compiled Triune put out information on the Drift right after the Gap ended. Moreover, any faster-than-light travel in our own world would mess time up badly.

So I assume that reality in that galaxy "unraveled."

In a sense, time didn't even really exist as time and had to be stitched back together (when I run things). And if you look at light or radio waves more than three hundred light years away, you can see them -- but near the edge of the Gap they are jumbled and overlapped "multiple realities," fuzzing out into an indistinguishable mess a few years in. You SHOULD be able to scan a world four hundred light years away and image its air and seas, listening to its radio and TV... but when I run things, it's all a mess.

Because whoever sewed reality back together NEEDED that vagueness.

Anyhow, that's how I do it.
Your mileage may vary!


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Metaphysician wrote:
Also, Starfinder doesn't use technology "instead of" magic, it uses technology and magic interchangeably and as one. Magic is fully integrated into the infrastructure and engineering, such that your cellphone and laser pistol? Have magical parts and processes in their operation.

I thought that was the place of hybrid items.

I would consider communicators and laser pistols as pure technology.

I can't remember exactly where, but one of the description paragraphs in the core rules specified that hybrid items are simply items that use both tech and magic to a large enough degree that an effect that applies to either category will work on them. So, a tech disabling ability or a dispel effect will both function. Most tech that lacks that label do still have magical components, but they are minor enough that only tech-based effects will target the item, just like how only magic-based effects will target a magic item.


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Ah, cool. I didn't know that.

Sovereign Court

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Also you don't need to be a spellcaster to craft magic items in Starfinder. Ranks in Mysticism are all you need. And you can make them out of universal polymer base.

So magic has also been rather "democratized"/technologized.


I View the gap as a sort of schrodinger's timeline , it allows everything in everyone's pathfinder games to be both right and wrong at the same time. That way cannon never conflicts with our home games.

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