Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Defiance Television Show quick review, Commentary And Break Down For Your Old School Space Opera or Post Alien Invasion Post Apocalypse Game

 So last night we stopped the game to catch the premeire of Defiance which is this  Post Alien Invasion Post Apocalypse television show. The show has this weird old west in the tradition of Flyfire thing going on about it. 

The basic plot according to Wiki with spoilers  : 
The series is set in the near future, where aliens known collectively as Votans have come to Earth seeking a new home after their star system was destroyed in a stellar collision. The Votans had thought Earth was uninhabited, but upon their arrival in 2013 discover that humans are living on the planet, who respond to them with hostility and suspicion.
A limited number of Votans are allowed to settle in a colony in Brazil, and eventually two other colonies, but millions of Votans remained in hypersleep aboard their ships in orbit as negotiations dragged on with Earth governments for full-scale settlement.
Tensions rose for ten years, but the Votan and human governments were on the verge of negotiating a peaceful settlement, when in 2023 the Votan ambassador to the United Nations was assassinated by a disgruntled human supremacist on live television outside of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. This sparked a disastrous global conflict between humans and the aliens known as the "Pale Wars".
The wars tore apart the planet for seven years, until their culmination in 2030 in the apocalyptic "Arkfall" event, when the Ark fleet in orbit mysteriously exploded. The aliens think a rogue human commander was responsible, while humans suspect it was an alien weapons experiment gone awry. Millions of Votans died in hypersleep. During the Arkfall, destroyed Arks rained down on Earth and accidentally released terraformer technology.
While the Votans had intended to use their terraforming technology in a carefully planned manner, the Arkfall haphazardly unleashed chaotic and radical changes to the biosphere and even the geology of Earth, making the planet dangerous to both humans and the aliens. The earth was scorched, chasms opened in the ground, new mountain ranges were raised, and the surface of the planet was covered with dust and debris.
Animal and plant species from the Votan star system were introduced to Earth, and both native and alien animal species were horribly mutated by the uncontrolled terraformer technology, creating bizarre and dangerous hybrids and new species.
Within a few months, the Pale Wars wound down as both sides had fought to the point of mutual exhaustion, and a ceasefire was declared. Few organized governments remained for either the humans or the aliens, and both sides factionalized as their members began looking out for themselves. In several areas, local human and Votan militias began to band together when they realized that they had to cooperate if they hoped to survive on this new, almost alien planet.
The debris from the destroyed Ark fleet now forms an artificial "Ark belt" in Earth orbit, which periodically rains down in small scale "Arkfalls", which present a hazard for survivors on the surface, but also provide valuable opportunities to salvage advanced technology aboard the Arks (which even the aliens can no longer easily reproduce on their own).

 The trailer for the television show. 

The Alien Races According To Wiki :


The Votans (/ˈvtæns/) are not a single species, but a collection of seven different alien species who evolved on separate planets in the Votanis star system. The different races banded together to flee their star system when it was destroyed in a stellar collision, and ultimately arrived at Earth.[5] The Votanis star system was destroyed in a stellar collision 5,000 years ago, but the millions of Votans who fled in ark-ships made the long interstellar journey in hypersleep, thus many of the older Votan characters were born in their home star system and lived under their old social structures before they had to evacuate. For example, older Castithans such as Datak and Stahma grew up in the caste-based society on their old homeworld, but younger Castithans born on Earth grew up after the Castithan social hierarchy broke down when they lived as refugees. Thus there is something of a generational divide between those Castithans who immigrated to Earth, who possess an older value set, and their first generation children raised on Earth (such as Datak and Stahma's son Alak).
The Votanis star system was located in the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way galaxy. It was actually a binary star system, composed of the stars Vysu and Solus. Vysu was orbited by two habitable planets, Daribo and Irath, each of which had one habitable moon. Solus was orbited by one habitable planet, Casti. The Indogenes and Castithans evolved on Daribo, and the Castithans later colonized Casti (hence its name). The Irathient, Sensoth, and Liberata evolved on Irath.
The Votanis Collective is the unified government of the Votans, formed to escape their home star system, though since the Pale Wars many Votans have (like humans) factionalized and broken off to carve out their own small fiefdoms. The Castithans, Indogenes, and Irathients were the most politically powerful races in their home star system, thus they made up a disproportionately large number of the survivors in the evacuation. Because they were politically weaker, relatively few of the Sensoth, Liberata, or Gulanee were present in the evacuation fleet.
The Votanis Collective is officially an alliance of five races, excluding the Gulanee and the Volge. So few Gulanee survived to arrive on Earth that they are not considered a separate faction, but are simply spread out among the other races of the Collective. The artificial Volge are hated by all other Votan races, and are the enemies of humans and other aliens alike. The Castithans and Irathients loathe each other, as their societies are based on idealistically opposite values of hierarchical order and rugged, chaotic independence. In contrast, the other four races besides the Castithans get along together quite well. The Irathients, Liberata, and Sensoth all evolved on the same planet where they peacefully co-existed for generations, while the rational Indogenes are also quite tolerant and try to get along with all of the other races. Most of the other Votan races, while not outright hating them like the Irathients do, see the Castithan as arrogantly trying to assume control over the other races. The Indogenes have a complicated relationship with them, because the Indogenes are very tolerant, but at the same time, the fact that they and the Castithans evolved on the same planet has led to each bickering over which of their two races is superior. Meanwhile, the labor-minded Liberata are just content to serve anyone, even the Castithans.
An eighth Votan race did exist, but are believed to have died out when the Votan star system was destroyed, either because they were still trapped on their home planet or because they did not survive the journey to Earth.


The Castithan appear very similar to humans. Their coloration is very pale, however, verging on albinism, with pale white skin, white hair, and pale yellow eyes. The Castithan society is aristocratic and hierarchical, and the other Votan races view them as arrogant. The Castithans used to have a patriarchal, rigidly segregated society on their home planet based on castes (known as liros), though this has broken down somewhat among the survivors on Earth due to the harsh conditions of the war and its aftermath. Datak Tarr, co-founder of Defiance (in the former location of St. Louis) is a Castithan, from one of the lower castes. His wife, Stahma Tarr, is from one of the Castithan higher castes. As a member of the lower castes, Datak possesses more egalitarian values, striving to work with other races through sharing of power to achieve mutual defense. As a member of the higher castes which benefited from the old patriarchical hierarchy, Stahma feels that their family should acquire more power for itself. However, this very ideology insists that it is not a woman's place to seize power, thus Stahma is faced with goading Datak into taking more aggressive measures so that he (and by extension, she) will possess more power.
Castithan society is deeply religious, based on a monotheistic belief system with rigid dogma and leadership (in contrast to more loosely "spiritual" Irathients). However, while dogmatic in many other social areas, the Castithan religion has few restrictions on sexuality, and Castithans are actually quite liberal in their attitudes towards sex. The Castithan language is created by linguist David J. Peterson, developer of the Dothraki language used in Game of Thrones.
When the Votan star system was being evacuated, each race was left to decide how they would select the small fraction of their populations which would be saved. The scientific and rational Indogenes stoically selected their best and brightest, while the Irathients decided who would earn a place in the evacuation fleet during a round of inter-tribal wars to determine who was the strongest (and therefore fittest in their culture). However, the Castithan leadership officially decided to evacuate only members of their higher castes, and leave the lower castes to die in their home star system. Thus, more than any other Votan race, the Castithans on Earth are not a microcosm of their entire race's social structure, but a disproportionate slice of their ruling elites. This causes several problems for the Castithans on Earth, as they don't really have a working-class base to rely on. Indeed, higher-caste Castithans living on Earth tended to assume that they could treat the other Votan races as essentially their new lower-castes, feeling they should lead the Votanis Collective while the other races serve them. This has led to considerable tension with the other races. Even so, a large number of Castithans from the lower-castes were still able to make their way onto the evacuation fleet and arrive at Earth, through one means or another (bribing their way onto the ships, or simply stowing away).


The most technologically advanced Votan race. They have bright white skin and no visible hair follicles. Their heads are hairless and smooth; their external ears don't really protrude, smoothly merging with the rest of the head. They have hexagonal shaped irises, and their skin is covered in faint hexagon-shaped scales; even their written language is based on hexagon shapes. As the most scientifically advanced Votan race, they have been upgraded with numerous genetic and cybernetic implants (which are often not externally visible). Culturally, they tend to be technical geniuses, scientists, and doctors.
Indogenes are typically atheists. They cremate their dead, and store the ashes in hexagon-shaped boxes.
Due to their technical expertise, most Indogenes remained on the Ark fleet in orbit when the Votans first arrived at Earth. Thus the Indogenes' numbers were devastated when the Ark fleet was destroyed at the end of the Pale Wars. After the wars, the surviving Indogenes have one of the smallest populations of all Votan races. Highly analytic and adaptable, the Indogenes tend to get along well with all other Votan races. The Castithans, however, are something of an exception, as both races evolved on the same planet and each feels they are superior. However, Indogene-Castithan tensions are more along the lines of petty bickering than a deep-seated blood feud.


A near-human race with an affinity for nature and adept at tribal warfare, described as almost feral marauders. Their coloration is more similar to humans than the pale Castithans, with bronze skin interspersed with biologically occurring patterns of white marks. However, the proportions of their facial features are slightly different from humans (and the human-like Castithans), with a wider bridge of the nose arcing towards the eyes. Their hair is usually a bright warm color, and they have oversized, brightly-colored irises. While aggressive and tribal, the Irathients also have a great respect for nature and are a deeply spiritual people. However their "spirituality" is a very loose and personal belief system, in contrast with the rigidly ordered hierarchy and strict dogma of the Castithan religion. The Irathients are the most common Votan race living on Earth. David J. Peterson also developed the full Irathient language.
The Irathients tend to get along well with the Sensoth and Liberata, because they evolved on the same planet, and peacefully co-existed on it for many generations. The Irathients can't stand the Castithan, whom they see as arrogant, as their rigidly hierarchical and ordered society and culture is the opposite of the chaotic, independent-minded society and culture of the Irathients.


The Liberata are shorter than humans, broad shouldered and thick-necked, with blockier facial features and long scruffy yellow hair. They are described as a servant-class race. Their language includes a high frequency of slang terms. The Liberata were once economically very powerful in the Votan star system, but their own avarice led to the ecological and social collapse of their society. Present-day Liberata humbly consider their present-day status as menial laborers and servants as deserved atonement resulting from the mistakes of their ancestors. They are well known for their gruff tempers and are sometimes considered petty. However, their frequently sarcastic demeanors have a deeper and more tragic origin, stemming from cultural disillusionment after their society self-imploded due to their own ancestors' short-sightedness.
The Liberata have a polytheistic religion focusing on the basic needs of life. However, their social collapse while in the Votanis system, combined with their relatively low numbers in the evacuation fleet, resulted in very few of their religious traditions surviving on Earth. Instead, the Liberata ended up borrowing many religious traditions from their planet-mates, the Sensoth and Irathients.
The Liberata are the servants of choice for the hierarchical Castithans, who find that the Liberata's labor-class work ethic and resignation to being servants in society fits well with the Castithan's own attitude that they are a superior ruling class. Because they were not politically powerful when the evacuation fleet was being organized, many of the Liberata who were let onto the Arks did so in exchange for contracts of indentured servitude with the Castithans. The Liberata get along well with the Irathients and Sensoth, because they evolved on the same planet where they peacefully co-existed. The independent-minded Irathients are often frustrated with the Liberata, however, because they feel the Liberata should stand up for themselves more and not be content to let others such as the Castithans order them around.


Slightly larger and taller than humans, they basically resemble a more humanoid orangutan. Their bodies are covered in reddish-brown fur, except on their faces, which have grayish skin. Their jaws protrude further forward than on humans, like apes (actors playing Sensoth characters have remote-controlled prosthetic appliances attached to their heads to achieve this effect). The Sensoth have a lifespan about twice as long as any other Votan race, often living as long as two centuries. This has made them a very patient people, preferring long-term plans over abrupt action. They come from a region on the planet Irath known as the Great Tarnalin Forest. They thus share several aspects with Earth's sloths, being arboreal in nature, speaking and acting very slowly and deliberately. Like the Liberata and Gulanee, they were not one of the more powerful Votan races, though for many generations they co-existed relatively peacefully with their planet-mates, the Irathients and Liberata. However, due to the value of the Sensoth's great strength, Castithan raiding parties frequently captured Sensoths and brought them back to their own planet to be servants and soldiers. Sensoths can be fiercely loyal to their Castithan "employers", almost to the point of gullibility.


An energy based race, they are a mystery to everyone else, including the other Votans. The other Votans weren't even aware of their existence until fairly recently, when the Indogenes sent out an expedition to the gas giant planet Gula to look for the mineral gulanite to power the Ark fleet. They established contact with the Gulanee, who agreed to help mine gulanite in exchange for a small fraction of Gulanee being allowed into the evacuation fleet. Most of the Gulanee stayed behind on their homeworld, confident that they would somehow survive. Like the Sensoth and Liberata, they were not politically strong when the exodus from the Votanis system was being planned, and very few were present in the evacuation fleet. The Gulanee are exceedingly rare on Earth, to the point that the Votanis Collective is officially considered to be made up of five races, excluding the Gulanee (who would have been the sixth). Instead, the handful of Gulanee on Earth are spread out amongst the other Votan groups.
Gulanee are so rare that others often assume that they are simply floating balls of energy. Instead, they wear carefully crafted "encapsulation suits" which are difficult to build and maintain. Gulanee will die if they spend more than a few hours outside of their suits.[6]


A race of automatons, disliked by all of the other Votan races, and the closest thing to a straightforward "villain" race. They stand over eight feet tall, are covered in dense armor, and possess integrated internal weapons. They come from a different planet in the Votanis system, Omec, and during the evacuation were intended to be left behind by the other races. No one knows who smuggled the Volge onto the Arks, or why, and their reappearance during the Pale Wars was a surprise to the other Votans. After the Pale wars ended they retreated to underground caverns, and continue to be hostile to humans and other Votans alike.[7]


Numerous new mutant races were created when the Votans' terraformer technology was haphazardly released in the Arkfall of 2030. Some are bizarre hybrids of animals from Earth and different Votan planets, or creatures so drastically altered that it isn't really clear what stock they were created from. Most prominent among these are Hellbugs, originally a small and rather harmless insect species from the Votanis system carried in the Arks, which were twisted by the terraformers into vicious predators. Hellbugs are hive-based eusocial insects with several different specialized castes, ranging from small Skitterlings that attack in swarms, to larger lion-sized Warriors. There are rumors of even larger varieties that are several stories tall. Greater effort hasn't been expended on eradicating Hellbugs because they are a very valuable fuel source. Hellbugs consume gulanite ore as a digestive aid, which results in their excrement containing unrefined "petrohol", the main fuel source for contemporary vehicles.
In addition to the alien races, another race present in the series are the Biomen (or Bio-Marines). During the Pale Wars, in an effort to match the Votans' superior technology, Earth's militaries successfully developed fully synthetic, sentient life-forms which could be mass-produced as shock troops in the war. Designed to be stronger and tougher than humans, the Bio-Marines were treated as expendable, because they were considered to possess no human rights. Biomen are larger and better muscled than normal humans, with bulging overdeveloped neck muscles. They come in a variety of skin colors, both natural and unnatural (i.e. blue) and have vividly colored eyes. They can be easily identified by the three inch tall serial numbers which have been branded across the width of their chests. Each group of Biomen was given its own "batch name" based on the first name of a United States President, i.e. "Pierce" or "Ulysses-537634". Biomen were designed to be naturally aggressive for the wars, and now that the wars are over they have been rendered obsolete. The Biomen have difficulty integrating into peacetime and are ostracized by baseline humans and Votans alike.

The Review
With lessons learned from a number of craptastic made for television movies sci fy or whatever the channel is now called is trying to gain some credibility and ground with this western style post apocalyptic alien show. 
Its good solid entertainment and keeps humming along for two hours in the pilot. The characters are solidly written and empathetic. The show breaks every single trope when it comes to never using western style tropes in science fiction.
There is of course the usual twists and turns here with a likable hero and his daughter/side kick. This show has elements of steampunk hidden throughout and lots of hooks and ladders for continuing the plot.
I'd give it three and a half stars.
 We'll continue watching and see where they take the show.
Using Defiance Television Show for old School Gaming 

Believe it or not I'm probably going to go against the grain of everyone and say that no I won't be using the world of show for gaming.
This show is a brand and like Firefly can provide a blue print for how to create a world but not as a world that my players want to game in. There are certainly elements of this show that are solid. Those elements were in other science fiction shows to be sure. There's also a video game time in!
Fantastic but again we've also seen this to be sure and I personally want to do something a bit more original. 

 Salvaging alien technology among a ruined world with scads of mutants and aliens running around? Hmm where have I seen that before? 

By all means I'll be supporting your show but I'm going to be over here safely within my PD post apocalyptic world with zombies, orcs, mutants and what have you.

Links :
Official Site
Wiki Entry


  1. I dvr'ed the premier last night, but I've yet to watch it.

  2. Yeah, I DVR'd it as well. Can't wait to watch it. I'll try out the game, too, once it's done downloading.


  3. Well Trey its a good solid show. Myself and my players enjoyed it. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks for the comment my friend.
    Ed - Thanks for the comment and I'd be very interested in what you think of the game demo. If its worth playing please by all means let me know.


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