It was always planned that there would be several solid “win conditions” (relatively speaking) for the Fleet. None of these were going to be easy nor present themselves until the late game, and some were certainly harder than others to find, but they were all possibilities. To some extent, each of these was actually investigated, which made us quite happy, but for your benefit we thought we'd detail them now with when they were investigated, and when they were written off.
It was always possible to keep running away so long as you moved at a decent pace. The Fleet of Apparitions from Earth was catching up for two reasons: the Princess was a glowing beacon of FTL Signature and moved far too slowly. At the point where you discovered the UCSS Deliverance with its 12 hour spool time, it became entirely possible to abandon the Princess and take the UCSS Deliverance off and away into the stars.
This, of course, did happen in Eternity (see garry_blake), and was something you tossed around as an idea. In the long run, this would probably have worked for a good while until humanity ran out of fuel…
There were three planets that it was possible to colonise (excepting the one in the Nebula) throughout the game. Each of them had their own detriment (which would have been fixable with the Terraforming technology aboard the UCSS Resurrection), and all would have required the sacrifice of the Princess heading off in a different direction to distract the apparitions (this became a harder thing for you to achieve after Turn 3 was spent fixing the Princess, allowing the apparitions to catch up, but still do-able). The planets available were:
The planet in the Nebula also required the sacrifice of the Princess to reach, but provided a bit more security from Apparitions and the least terraforming. The difficulty with getting to Eta Helion was the Nebula (which was deliberately ambiguous for its crossing, though made even moreso by the action of Bolygo Pharma), the necessity to abandon any Cargo 1 ships to make it through, and the paranoia induced by not being able to see out of the Nebula. As you all know, you made it to this one!
The Fear Entities were sentient. Yep, you heard us: sentient. Each of them had their own agendas and could have been played off against each other (and to an extent with Vastness of Space, you did do this). Dominance enjoyed playing with its food, while Body Horror would have loved nothing more than to rip into the lot. Paranoia hated the lack of subtlety its comrades had, while Vastness of Space despised the others for their noisiness. It was, therefore, entirely possible to reason with these guys and exchange annihilation for being their eternal servants / becoming one with them, though it was VERY hard to do this – one word or foot in the wrong place and an EXECUTE call would have been around the corner.
That said, several of you DID manage to do this (wittingly or unwittingly):
Tai Pullman, contrary to popular belief, was not being manipulated by the Fear Entities. Far from it: Tai was bestowed with power of Order – she saw determinisim and worked with it perfectly, and was a potent tool that could be used against the apparitions (if only she allowed herself to use her power).
This hopefully will come as no surprise to you: the entire Fleet was being chased from Earth by a Fleet of Apparitions and the Fear Entities of Paranoia, Body Horror and Dominance. These started off behind you some distance but moved at 2 hexes per turn while you guys if you stuck with the Princess would move only one.
Key to all this (to start with) was the location of the Phoenix – this was the Flagship of Dominance's Fleet and was what you all affectionately called the “Cathedral Ship”. In actual fact, it was the HMCS Sydney (the ship that opened fire on the UCSS Tokyo), but it was aboard this that the physical manifestation of Dominance sat. From this, at least until the Fears started fracturing, the following effects occurred:
To give you some idea of how far behind it was, this table relates the position of the Phoenix and the Princess:
|Session||Princess (you)||Phoenix (Dominance)|
|1||Arcturus Minor||First Asteroids from Earth (5 systems away)|
|2||Elysium V||Second Gas Giants from Earth (4 systems away)|
|3||Elentis 227a||Deep Space Sector 0 (3 systems away)|
|4||Elentis 227a||Elysium V (1 system away)|
|5||GX-870||Elentis 227a (1 system away)|
|6||Deep Space 9||Deep Space Sector 3 (2 systems away)1)|
|7||Deep Space 10||Deep Space Sector 9 (destroyed)|
This map was the key one we used at the start of the game. We moved some things (before we wrote anything contrary that that would contradict), but the most important thing to note is that little zone of pink at the bottom. That was the boundary of apparitions – any system behind this line would be susceptible to Paranoia (the zones to the sides were potential zones for apparitions but we did not use these). One system behind this line was Body Horror, and one system behind that line was Dominance, with the Phoenix at the heart. This line advanced 2 hexes every turn, with an extra hex thrown in for every death: catching up in Turn 3 or 4 was always the plan.