I have always been interested in history and I always found it quite intriguing to play in historic roleplaying games. So it was of course no surprise that I backed Achtung! Cthulhu which combines Lovecraftian elements with the history of WW2. For most of my readers playing in such a game has no special significance. The vast of majority of my readers is from one of the countries who were known as the Allies in WW2. But for me – as a German – things are a bit different. My people were the bad guys back then.
I am usually a very mild-mannered and peaceful person, but there’s one thing I particularly hate: fascism. Fascists and Nazis make me terribly angry. For me (and probably you as well) the Hitler regime was definitely what we’d call the bad guys. So if I’d ever play in such a game I’d probably play an Allied soldier or something similar. It just wouldn’t feel right for me to play one of the supporters of said regime. I think I could portray Nazi NPCs as a GM, but never as a player. It just feels terribly wrong.
Because of our history I always hesitated to actually run a game set in WW2. I am sure there are many interesting stories to be told, but I fear it’s hard to do it in a proper way that also respects the victims of the war. I guess I might be overthinking things. Perhaps it’s because I always try to do the right thing. My question to you, my dear readers, is how do you see this? Would you play one of the bad guys? Do you think that topics like the Holocaust can be properly handled in a roleplaying game? How do you deal with your home country’s history in a roleplaying enviroment?
Since this is a very serious and complicated topic, please let me try to end the post on a lighter note:
For years I wanted to run a proper SciFi game. I’ve made plans for Stars Without Number, but the project never made it to the game table. I tried to write a complete SF RPG for NaGaDeMon last year, but I was unable to finish it. A big part in this was played by the bouts of anxiety and depression I was suffering from for years now.
I’m finally feeling a little better, and I’ve successfully run Numenera for a while now, but I can’t get Traveller from my mind. I’m actually currently playing in a Savage Worlds-powered Traveller game at the moment, but I am also interested in running a Traveller game of my own. I recently mused about this on this very blog. Running a game in a slightly modified OTU (Original Traveller Universe) would certainly be a possibility, but there are so many others.
One of the ideas I had was designing a totally original region of space filled with a couple of pocket empires modelled after Europe shortly after WW1. This could be a very intriguing setting to play in with a lot of politics, intrigue, some spying, and perhaps even a couple of border skirmishes. While the setting would take some inspiration from history, all the common Traveller tropes would remain intact, which definitely makes things easier. But my players are interested in a more exploration-focused campaign, so this might not a great fit.
Recently I picked up the 2300AD Bundle of Holding. 2300AD is an alternate universe for the Mongoose Traveller rules which is set into the 24th century. After a devastating WW3 humanity has slowly started to get back on its feet and made their first steps into interstellar space. It’s a very cool setting with offers countless opportunities for players and GMs.
Chthonian Stars by WildFire is another cool alternative. It’s another setting for Traveller but this time it’s even more close to our times. It’s set in 22nd century and introduces elements from the Cthulhu Mythos to Traveller. And if you don’t like cosmic horror in your SF, just throw out all the Mythos stuff and you got a reasonably hard SF setting.
Alas both 2300AD and Chthonian Stars don’t feature Psionics, which one of my players loves. I could try to shoehorn Psions into those settings or continue looking for something else. At the moment I am still a bit torn. There are so many opportunities but I just can’t make up my mind. What would you do if you were in my shoes?
I am not sure if I already wrote on the blog about it, but I have been playing Traveller for several months now. Initially my GM wanted to run a face-to-face game but we couldn’t make it happen. There were just too many scheduling problems, so we eventually decided to switch to a Hangout game. But I digress.
The longer I played Traveller the more I wanted to run it. I love the way our GM handles things (his version of Traveller feels almost Hard SciFi, which is extremely cool), but I also wanted to try my hand at running it myself. We actually use Savage Worlds with some elements from Interface Zero and Chaotic GM’s Savage Space, but I am toying with the idea of running a Traveller game with either Mongoose Traveller, Classic Traveller (thanks, Bundle of Holding), or Stars Without Number.
But there’s one element that slightly bothers me. For some reason I feel that the Traveller universe doesn’t need all those aliens. For one most aliens in Traveller feel like humans in rubber suits anyway (aside from the Hivers perhaps) and a Traveller universe without aliens feels closer to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation universe which Traveller was surely influenced by. I might actually keep some of the mystery of the Ancients alive, but having various variants of Humanity feels enough for my tastes.
The question now remains whether I should just create my own alien-less universe with Traveller trappings or just keep the Traveller universe as it is and just replace aliens by humans. What would you do if you were in my shoes? And do you think Traveller is still Traveller without Vargr, Hivers, Droyne, etc.? Please share your comments below.