The big talk in my circle of contacts and friends has been all about heresy and older gaming material. It got me thinking on my own relationship, or lack of relationship in regards to material and settings of yesteryear. I own a lot of gaming PDF's and material, but I find myself in agreement that a lot of the material I really cannot or don't care to use. It is material that might benefit the reader, but doesn't offer as much as it claims to the Game Master. Sometimes it does, and that's cool, but I never wanted to read dozens of splat books. For instance: Spelljammer. I love the concept of Spelljammer! Arcane powered ships, space pirates, and hippo-men who love firearms. Great stuff. It did however have a lot of problems. It was often inconsistent and it's tone sort of fluctuated from dark, or at least dramatic stuff (Slavery, xenophobia, Elves perpetuating genocide against humanoids they do not like) to humor that was juvenile ('Those Gnomish side wheelers should be powered by giant hamsters!')
I don't mean to keep heaping praise on Scarabae, but it and Jack Shear's Krevborna both inspired me to intrdouce The Boiler. This method is boiling a campaign setting to parts I think are really good about the setting. So! What can we boil about Arcane Space?
The Rock of Bral
It is said that if Arcane Space needed a center, Bral, or as it's often called "The Rock" would be it. Once a large asteroid capable of supporting a verdant underside, the Rock of Bral has gone from a space pirate hub to a legitimate trading center thanks to House Frun. The House itself has it's origins as pirates and scalawags before Captain Frun used his crew and support from the merchants who had begun to immigrate to Rock to throw out the riffraff and declare himself a 'Prince'. Frun's legacy continues with his son, Andru. Andru has managed to keep himself and the Rock a neutral port of commerce, despite the conflicts that have erupted throughout the region.
The Shadow of the Curled Tentacle
Modern Arcane Space takes place after the collapse of the Mindflayer Empire (the Imperium). Planets such as Falx and Darkwater are but a remnant of the old order. Mindflayers still exist and continue to travel on their Nautaloid craft through Arcane Space. They chafe at the last of influence and conspire to one day gain dominion over other races. What power the Mindflayer's have amassed is the secret of forging Jammer Helms, the arcane engines required to get a ship into space. Their manufacturing planet, Falx is considered the greatest prize to Mindflayers and a target for other races.
Movers & Shakers
Besides Mindflayers, the movers and shakers of Arcane Space include the Elves and Scro. The Elven Dominion spans many a planet including Pacifica, Orior, Gorth, and Lionheart. Humanity and its kingdoms often live under the 'protection' of the Dominion Navy and if they don't contribute men, they at least contribute protection tribute in keeping the space routes opens. The Scro are a bestial race. In another world they might be known as 'Orcs' - save for jet black or deep maroon skin tones, but the Scro do not merely live for plunder and war. They can at times be calculating and willing to treat in parlay with other races. Their homeworld of Dukagsh is something of a volcanic homeworld, good for ore production. The Scro have fought several wars against the Dominion and long for a day when Scro iron boots march upon Lionheart's golden streets to pay back the Elves for their treatment.
The Spacesea of Arcane Space is home to asteroid belts, clusters, and other places where gangs of pirates launch raids from to plunder, rob, and murder. Groups such as the Bloodstone Boys, the Judged, and the Red Lotus are just some of the groups and ships that exist in Arcane Space. Most notorious of these groups include the Chainmen who are pirates and agents who deal with the awful institution of slavery and Tenth Pit a pirate-mercantile group who owe both their success and fealty to demons and the power known as the Devil.
Not all of Arcane Space is merely pirates, fiends, and xenophobes. Players of a heroic quality can find patronage with organizations such as The Pragmatic Order of Thought (POTS), an anti-slavery organization. Fireball Alliance, an organization of Wizards seeking to keep evil in check as much as possible. Players might also view themselves as sellswords might wish to work for mercenary organizations such as The Trading Company or Valkan's Legion.