My NaGa DeMon diary #1


On Friday I announced my project for this year’s NaGa DeMon. It will be a near future hard science fiction roleplaying game called Astronauts. And after making that announcement I realized two things: a) a lot of people are quite excited about this and b) it’s going to be harder than I thought.


One major problem is that the way I imagined the game in the first place it’s extremely hard to actually run it. While being in space, exploring the surface the Mars etc. is extremely exciting a lot of the things astronauts do during those missions is terribly boring when played in a roleplaying game. As HyenaSpotz pointed out in a comment to my announcement post:

What sorts of conflicts would this game have? If there are no aliens, most of the immediate threat is environmental, the sweeping threats are politics back on Earth, and there’s always the “Why did you bring a gun into space?” scenario among the team…

I have been thinking about this over the weekend and I also checked out Paul Elliott’s game Mars which commenter rainswept recommended. And I realized that I can circumvent a lot of the major problems by moving the game from “First Mission to Mars” to the “First Colony on Mars” without having to abandon all of my initial ideas.

I already started working on a future history which spans from the early to mid 21st century. In my version of the future a new space race starts in the 2020s with a international mission to Mars led by the USA against a Chinese Mars project. The game will probably be set into the 2050s or later when a permanent research colony on Mars has been established and when private companies start looking into exploiting the natural resources of Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies.

When it comes to game rules I am currently torn between a dice pool mechanic and a 3d6-roll-under mechanic. But in either case I intend to use a system light on rules. The focus of the game should be the story, the characters and not the rules. Since I am still in an early design phase I am of still open to your ideas. What are your thoughts on the whole project? Please share your thoughts below.



I finally had an idea for what I want to work on for NaGa DeMon! Astronauts will be a hard sf roleplaying game set into a near future which focuses on human space exploration. It’s not about humans meeting aliens, shooting laser guns and flying through ridiculously dense asteroid fields, but it’s about astronauts doing research on Mars or establishing a base on the moon.
At this moment I am still in the early planning phases, but I thought I start by creating a cover, so that I have something to motivate and inspire me during the coming weeks!

Astronauts RPG cover

I hope you like it!

If everything goes as planned I will post semi-regular updates on my progress. As with all my other games it will probably be freely available under a Creative Commons license. If you have any more questions about this game, feel free to post in the comments below.

Putting fantastic back into Fantasy


Illustration by William Heath Robinson - ca. 1902 Yesterday I played in another session of Chris McDowall’s “Into the Odd” over Google+ Hangout. As always we had a blast and it also inspired me to write about putting back the fantastic into fantasy.

One problem that fantasy roleplaying games often have is that they are often very clichéd and cover all the common tropes you would expect. Of course there’s magic, fantastical places and all kind of weird creatures, but after a while you know what to expect and a horde of walking dead is not really frightening anymore. It’s just another obstacle on the way to the big bad guy at the end of the dungeon.

Chris’ game is different. The majority of his world is pretty mundane. There are no elves, no dwarves, not one of the common fantasy monsters like kobolds, orc, dragons, you name it. Magic is something noone really understands and you need ancient artifacts called Arcana to use it. And if you get into a fight things get messy pretty quick.

Continue reading Putting fantastic back into Fantasy

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