Certainly good expansion material.
Mini campaign 0 (trainer): Trade League/Vasari first contact, you are a low-ranking junior command officer, but a promising one. You're given the task of investigating a series of distant colonies which trader ships haven't been returning from in the last few months, and lately trade the Trade League has designated the area a no-fly zone until it can be investigated, even dspite the rich resource fields to be found there.
Anyways, you get there, you find lots of debris. The colony itself (a barren asteroid) needs to be examined more closely. There are two other colonies a phase jump away forming a triangle pattern, with one additional phase line unexplored, leading outwards a long distance from the most distant asteroid. Perhaps you have a "capital ship" of the colonization class and a small escort fleet, but since this is before first contact, you're poorly armed, like, equivalent to your average modern-day Cobalt frigate. Pathetic - still lots of hull points though, and considered more of a peacetime explorer vessel. For additional canonicity, the ship could also be reskinned or given some mesh modifications to appear more as a ship of peace.
You send a crew down to investigate the planets' surface ("colonize" ability) and they find it has been clearly wiped out, with evidence of tampering with intel gathering computers. This first asteroid you arrive at secretly doubled as a long-range listening post, which is why such a well-equipped expidietion was sent - that, and previous expiditions never returned.
"Lieutenant, the long-range detection systems have been completely disassembled, it appears someone has been accessing our intelligence network, sending false reports for some time now. There is also evidence of of a lot of data being downloaded from our nets, from the looks of it, probably stellar cartography and military deployment information."
"What? How long ago?"
"It's hard to say... there are storage facilities and some sort of a barracks down here. With the amount of supplies this thing could have held... I'm not sure, 6-9 months would be my minimum estimate if they came fully supplied"
"And your maximum estimate?"
"I can't make any solid guesses, sir-"
"If you had to make a wild guess, what would it be?"
"I... if this was a job done by one of our teams, with the proper rationing they could have been down here for upwards of two Earth years. But in any case, there's no signs of any activity down here for at least three months or so. Whoever did this is long gone."
"I see. And with the long-range detection systems being out of action, so goes the long range communication, meaning-"
"Yes, we're cut off. I would strongly advise you to send some of our ships back with this new information. We may need reinforcements."
"From pirates? Even if we're just a small investigation force, they're no match for us. Besides, you said it yourself, the outpost was abandoned some time ago. What are you not telling me?"
"Sir... I don't want to jump to conclusions, but... I don't believe pirates are responsible for this. Some of this technology is... I've been a science officer for 11 years, and this stuff is unlike anything I've ever seen before. I can probably guess what their functions are, but how to operate this equipment is completely beyond me."
"So this is the work of some outside party, an alien race perhaps?"
"That would be my guess."
"Then I've made my decision. In that case, we can't risk sending just part of the fleet back to base to request reinforcements, we may need them here. In fact, I would bet that previous crews sent to investigate this site divided their forces and that's why they were never heard from again. But we also can't afford to leave the situation down there unresolved. Chief, I want you to continue investigating the ruins. I will have our our light cargo carriers sent down to you now; load them up with any leftovers from this anonymous third party. Should you... discover anything that might be a weapon or anything else we might be able to use, prioritize it."
"Understood. Buy me as much time as you can, even with the heavy lifting equipment on the transports, this will be a big job."
"Understood, do your best. Out."
First officer to you:
"If we're staying, we might as well fortify the area and build an escort factory. This area of space is dense with various metals and minerals, we should exploit them as quickly as possible. It appears that the trade station and refineries here are still functional, their autonomous systems should still be functional. You should decide to either take advantage of the long-term economic bonus they will give us, or just scuttle them and use the raw materials to build some effective defenses. (introducing the player to scuttling, trade, and how the refinery quota system works - ideally the entire "training campaign" that's already included in Sins would be able to be seamlessly integrated into this first or second campaign if this was done right)
Anyways.....YOU CAN SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING..... A Vasari scout ship will jump into the system, apparently en route to another destination. Suddenly it stops (this is a cutscene) and makes several close passes by the Trader fleet and the asteroid. Neither side fires, apparently not wanting to provoke and risk a confrontation. It soon jumps away... back in the direction it came from. Your first officer points out to you that seems to have strayed from its original course and is likely returning to its starting location... it's reporting back to someone. It has too much of a head start on us for us to catch it.
Soon the action heats up as small groups of various Vasari ships begin launching attacks, testing their technology against your own. In the meantime you have been bulding a defense fleet consisting of the forerunners to the modern Cobalt frigate. It is weak, perhaps 1/8 as powerful as it is in the modern timeline.
When the main Vasari attack begins, it comes in waves. The AI is programmed in the back-end to only attack your regular ships and structures, but to leave your capital ship alone as much as possible. When you're down to less than half of your original strength, a massive attack force jumps in, but does not immediately attack for some reason. You order your transports to take off and 20 seconds later or so they're magically back in your docking bay, with the full landing party intact (the colony itself has now turned to neutral status). Your mission now, is to run as fast as you can. You are attacked by light groups of Vasari for two jump points, until you reach a wormhole (your objective) which completes the mission.
Campaign 1: Vasari campaign, still relatively easy, many missions consist of "colonize X worlds within Y time" while being harassed by the pathetically weak Trader ships. As a relatively low-ranking commander, you know that something bad is following your race, but specifics are need-to-know. Other missions may involve building large numbers of ships, while, again being harassed by increasingly bold TEC and introducing you to pirates. Basically a exploration/resourcing/construction/basic combat trainer to get you familiar with all of Sins' unusual design choices. With each mission, the TEC ships' combat effectiveness is increasing, eventually bringing them up to about 60% of the strength you are familiar with in modern-day Sins. At the end of the campaign, you have a *very* brief encounter with your persuers, with them perhaps being offscreen entirely, and only their weapons fire showing, as your flagship (and presumably your Vasari character) are disintegrated in a few seconds. Leading us into....
Campaign 2: Advent campaign. The difficulty curve begins to become steeper now, with many missions centered around more practical subjects such as the total elimination of your tormentors from hundreds of years ago, the newly-formed TEC. At the beginning of this campaign, the TEC ships are much more advanced than they were at the end of the Vasari campaign, perhaps up to 80% of normal. This pisses off the Advent since they were off in secret conducting all kinds of crazyass research and expected to come back and just slaughter everyone with virtually no organized or effective resistance - the 10 year war with the Vasari has inadvertently saved the TEC from complete destruction at the hands of the vengeful Advent. For a little intruigue, perhaps the Advent and Vasari never come into contact with each other, and they start fighting like mad when they meet, each considering the other to be abominations.
Campaign 3: TEC Campaign. Interestingly, you are the same character as in 'campaign 0', with the same ship, but heavily militarized. A very nostalgic feeling for most players, I think, seeing his change in attitude and such. He and his ship would have to have a very memorable name though. Your character is now a high-rankig officer, actually the one who narrates the intro. Ships at the beginning are up to 90% of regular capacity and some of the higher classes are unlocked. Half-way through the campaign there is an interlude where only people who have Entrenchment will recieve a mission explaining the use of Starbases and other Entrenchment-only features, perhaps as part of a "future weapons" testing program - thereby explaining why they won't be present in the rest of the campaign. By the end of the campaign, the Vasari, Advent, and TEC are all up to 100% power, with a fully unlocked tech tree. As mentioned at the end of the Campaign 2 summary, the Advent and Vasari have basically given the TEC a litle breathing room for now, allowing you to begin retaking the heavily defended border worlds that were lost to either the Vasari or Advent. Because those two species have an almost religious hatred for each other, their response to these attacks, while powerful, is not like the overwhelming power they showed earlier in their resepective campaigns.
Campaign 4: A short but sweet campaign, perhaps 3 or 4 missions long. Consiss of the Vasari "mysterious enemy" at various stages of its attack against the Vasari, until finally it has reached Trader space. Chronologically, each mission might be as much as 5-20 years apart. Because the majority of the experience the "mysterious enemy" has with the Vasari is before they are up to modern-day tech (they start off at, perhaps, 60% of normal), it explains why they are not completely dominating the Vasari, TEC, and Advent all simultaneously when they all meet. This sets the game up for a primarily SP expansion and explains why all four races would be at odds with each other when you fight in scenario mode. The "mysterious enemy" ships are, by themselves, far more powerful than any of the other races' individual ships, but except for the lightest classes they are also far more expensive and perhaps not as fast-moving. This race could perhaps have some kind of advanced Phase movement system, where they can jump between any two systems (with a maximum range that is increased with research) as long as they are within X distance of each other. Jump interdictors would pevent this, beside that, this alternate phase drive is _much_ slower than conventional phase drive. They are like a slow-moving juggernaut, explaining why the Vasari have been able to keep one step ahead despite not exactly always being in a rush. They spread like a disease, a cancer.
The final campaign could end with a cutscene in a battle between all four sides, with your "commander" of whatever type the "mysterious enemy" has saying, something to the effect of "So now more would stand in our way... we'll see for how long." The "mysterious enemy" ships, high-end, very expensive ships, utterly dominate the other 3 sides in a script-heavy battle - all three sides retreat, and the "mysterious enemy" fleet breaks into three parts, each following a different race on a course inevitably leading to their homeworld.
According to my canon, "mysterious enemy" capital ships aren't all the same cost, but some require more than one "officer count" and differ widely in capabilities. The heaviest ships have the advantage of being extremely difficult to destroy, and more likely to survive a battle to fight another day, making their seemingly excessive price more fair. Weapons-wise, they are actually not more powerful by a wide margin than the other races, they are simply very difficult to kill - perhaps having rapid regenerative abilities as well.
All three original races, TEC, Advent, and Vasari are now severely weakened as well - the TEC is slowly rebounding from an attack on two sides, but still controls less than a third of its original territory, and the Vasari and Advent are positively murderous to one another, stopping at no cost to try to harm each other in any way possible. Hopefully this doesn't all end up in a "Forged Alliance" scenario where the three factions turn into flower children and decide to play nice together until the "Mysterious Enemy" has been dealt with. For a little more of a plot twist, you might have the TEC and Advent get completely wiped out, and be on the run, each with their own "rag-tag fleet" trying to find a new home as far away as possible at the end of the campaigns.
Well Ironclad, can I be your writer?