Category Archives: Fluff/Inspiration

Some thoughts on roleplaying in the SF genre

FlyingCar While I am currently a fantasy campaign I am already thinking about what I could run next. And as so often before the idea to run a SF game crops up again. I actually decided on a system I want to use and now I am collecting ideas for a campaign. Of course I could run an preexisting campaign or use a background my players are already familiar with, but in my opinion creating a whole new universe is half the fun.

When I started thinking about what elements I want in my SF game I immediately noticed some of the problems with running games in that particular genre. Especially when you want to have at least some semblance of science in your science fiction things get complicated pretty quickly. Fantasy is easy. We all know what a sword is, we have a pretty good idea what an orc is and magic … just works. When creating a SF universe you have to put a lot of thought into almost any aspect. Of course you can just call it Space Opera and treat technology like magic. How does the hyperdrive work? Just fine, thank you. ;)

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Ask the readers: Original alien races for your RPG?

If you read my post here in the blog regularly you’ll know I have been planning a sci-fi game for the longest time. I’ve written about it, even posted a possible campaign background. Whether I end up using that, a variation or something completely different, there is one thing I love about sci-fi, aliens! You might love then or hate them but they are definitely a staple of the genre.

I have played games like Star Trek and Star Wars with their myriad, seemingly endless, litany of race. My latest campaign ideas call for a very human centric campaign. There will still be aliens but very few and mostly in the background. But whether I go big or small, whenever I begin to design a campaign I run into the same stumbling block, the aliens.

Yeah I know, it’s a love hate relationship… Here is my rationale. I love designing my own campaigns and dislike pre-packaged settings. In a sci-fi setting I love designing alien cultures because they give me a chance to explore a wholly different outlook, build new societies. However I am a big believer in pictures speaking louder than words, so I typically need to find an image to represent the new alien race.

If you think my writing skills could be better, you haven’t seen my drawings! I am incapable of illustrating the alien races in my mind. I have tried some workarounds, adapting aliens from other media like comics, TV, film, even video games, but I typically find that if the players know them they immediately associate the characteristics from their source of origin rather than the ones I’ve developed for them.

I’ve tried using images found online (for personal use, no copyright laws where hurt writing any campaign!) but typically there is one image for the alien, and I love having NPC images during games and it is really hard to believe ALL aliens of the species look exactly alike. So there is my conundrum, I want original looking aliens I can insert into my campaigns. I’ve thought about commissioning some artist, but wonder if the campaign warrants the expense.

So what do you do for your sci-fi campaigns? Do you like aliens in them, and how many? Do you repurpose existing aliens or create your own? Are there any artist reading this willing to do commissions? Dear reader I’d love your input on this…

Inspired by Television

Television programs have long inspired role-playing games; we have adapted concepts from TV into games, like arcs, episodes, etc. Books on scriptwriting have been incredibly useful for me when creating adventures. This “season” (and I use the term lightly as it loses its traditional meaning in the face of evolving media) has some outstanding series that inspire me, give me ideas for current and future games and make me want to run all sorts of different games. Let me share what inspired me recently.

Game of Thrones: Duh! This is a no-brainer. I am a fan of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (despite the fact that the series will probably NOT end in his lifetime), so the TV series was great. There is an official RPG for those interested in running a game in Westeros, but even if you don’t there is so much to take from this series. Smart, dark fantasy, its nuances may not be for everybody, but to me the pacing and style alone are worth examining. Season 2 is coming soon, so even if you don’t feel like reading through the books, don’t miss the show.

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