Category Archives: Fluff/Inspiration

MARS Project, a zombiepocalypse game

Hello readers! Sorry for my prolonged absence. As Michael posted I’ve had my plate full. I’ve mentioned some of it before, but to recapitulate, I’ve been at a new job since late last year, and on top of that I’ve decided to go back to college to do another master’s degree. That in particular has become a terrible time drain. I am thrilled to be studying again, but as part of the accelerated study program I spend most nights working on class work instead of musing about RPGs. I got my priorities all mixed up I know!

I am on a break between classes, a full week, so I thought I’d catch up on my posting for a few days. I’m working in a couple of other things, but I really don’t want to discuss it as not to jinx it. This post came about as a quick fiction piece for my regular gaming night (Tuesdays, for those of you that are wondering!). One of the regular players is out of the country and another one is getting surgery (I wish them both good luck) so we decided to put the supers game in temporary hiatus, four weeks, and play something else instead.

After discussing the options over with the players we settled on a zombie game using Savage Worlds. We also discussed possible settings and the players came to a consensus so I created a Facebook group for the adventure and began posting tidbits of information, some images, and today I posted the accompanying text. This is meant to set the stage for the game. I wanted to get characters ready before the game but real life conspires against us so it’s looking more and more likely we’ll be creating characters tomorrow. Thankfully that process is painless with the system. I’m looking forward to this. I’ll keep you posted about how it turns out. Now without further ado, 2012, the Zombiepocalypse is upon us!

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Starflight cover Yesterday I mused about roleplaying in the SF genre and in the evening I remembered some of the computer games I enjoyed tremendously in my youth: the Starflight series and Star Control 2. Both game series featured space exploration, mining, tongue-in-cheek humor, space combat and a huge galaxy to explore. Starflight 1 for example had about 250 stars with over 800 planets. And aside from high-G planets or gas giants you could explore all of these planets, mine raw materials and explore ruins left by the Old Empire and the Ancients.

In both game series you commanded a modular spaceship that you could customize and upgrade to a certain extent and Starflight had a few classic roleplaying elements when it comes to creating your crew. Each ship officer had several skills like Navigation, Science and Engineering and could be from one of the races living on Arth, your homeplanet.

Star Control II cover The question is now: how can we take both games as an inspiration for a pen & paper RPG campaign? What I like a lot is the focus of exploration in both series. There’s a vast galaxy out there and the players are boldly going where noone has gone before. Because there is no FTL communication, a starship is mostly on it’s own. There’s probably an overall mission but what the players do is mostly there own decision, there are no Admirals holding their hands all the time. So in a way the crew of such a spaceship is a lot like the classic adventuring party.

A campaign inspired by Starflight/StarControl is probably best run like a slightly modified sandbox game. The players decide what route they want to take, but everything is given some direction by an overall mission. This may be finding a new home for humanity, fighting against a terrible foe, learning more about a now extinct precursor race, or whatever else might motivate your players.

The next step will be coming up with a setting that works a basis for such a campaign. I already have a couple of ideas that I might share with you in the upcoming weeks, but if you have any ideas of your own, feel free to share them in the comments below!

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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