The Endless Quest For A Science Fiction Campaign Setting

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I think as long as I knew about roleplaying games I was looking for the “perfect” science fiction setting. Of course there’s no such thing. But there’s something close, a setting which I would love to run games in and which I can really make my own. During the last twenty years or so, I have created several homebrew SF campaign settings. But usually I am not perfectly happy with them. One reason for this is probably that I can’t make up my mind. I am always torn between the gritty hard science setting I’d love to play in and the space opera setting I could find players for.

The question quickly boils down to whether I want to put a lot of work in something I’d love even if I will never put it to use. Don’t get me wrong, I also love space opera settings. But when it comes to writing my own stuff, I always want to get things “right”. Even when I have some cool ideas for a light-hearted space opera setting, I usually end up on Atomic Rockets (a website I could peruse for days at a time!) and try to reconcile my pet theories with real-world physics. This ends with me throwing out half the stuff I’ve written so far, in order to make the technology more “real”.

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So I constantly try to walk the thin line between approachabilty and realism, and – trust me – I am not good at tightrope walking. The next problem is that I am often inspired by existing settings from books, movies, video games, but I don’t want my homebrew setting to look like some Frankensteinian nightmare. Most people I know would probably not care. A lot of people have successfully run or played in kitchen sink settings in which space marines from Warhammer 40,000 fought Borg from the Star Trek universe while being allied to the Jedi order from Star Wars. This just feels wrong to me.

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I think my mental health issues are partly to blame for this. Back in the day, before I had to deal with depression, anxiety, and all these other nice things, it was much easier to be creative. Nowadays I often overthink everything and turn activities that should be fun into a nightmare. Ok, perhaps I am exaggerating a bit, but I guess it helps to make a point. What I am now hoping for is advice from you guys. I am pretty sure I am not the only one having this problem. How have you dealt with something like this in the past? Please post your comments below!

Review: Conan – Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of (Part 3)

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This is what you’ve been waiting for, the conclusion of my Conan – Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of review! Usually my reviews are not that long, but this time I decided it was time to try something new. Please let me know in the comments below if you prefer this more in-depth approach to shorter first look posts.

imageBefore having a look of the rest of the book’s content I have to talk about the artwork. I already mentioned Modiphius’ high production values in the first part of the review, but I just have to mention it again. You’ve seen the pieces I included in my review and I doubt you’ll disagree with me if I say that the artwork used throughout the book is not only gorgeous but also a perfect fit to the source material. The layout is a standard two-columned layout, the fonts chosen are highly readable. I’ve definitely seen fancier layouts in my time, but I get the impression that Modiphius focused on readability over fancy here. This was actually a wise decision because a lot of modern RPGs are often being accused of being hard to read especially if you’re eyesight is not as it used to be. Since we roleplayers are an aging demographic, it makes sense to keep things like that in mind. Nevertheless, the Conan corebook is a sight to behold. I can’t wait to get my hands on a physical copy!

Before delving into The Hyborian World and the remaining parts of the book, let’s have a quick look at equipment. Conan has a quite extensive chapter on equipment, including long lists of various weapons, armor, and other belongings. There are also rules for mounts like horses or more exotic ones like camels. Since Conan was also an infamous pirate for a time of his life, we also get rules for boats and ships. These are not too detailed, but at least allow you to make use of sea travel in your adventures.

Continue reading Review: Conan — Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of (Part 3)

Review: Conan – Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of (Part 2)

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This is part two of my review of Modiphius’ Conan – Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of. Last time we mostly focused on the character generation and the rules in general. This time we tackle Skills and Talents, as well as Combat and Sorcery.

But before talking about Skills and Talents I have to add something which I forgot last time. Aside from the character creation method I described in the first part of the review, there are two additional ones: there is a fully random character creation in which you roll 9d20, assign an order to the results and pick the options indicated by the dice rolls. Done. This is definitely a quick method of creating characters but not something I’d recommend. There’s also a method for creating larger-than-life characters which can go toe to toe with legends like Conan himself. Overall it’s obvious that the designers put a lot of thought into the whole character creation process. It reminds me a lot of the various lifepath character creation methods.

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Let’s move on to skills and talents now. Conan includes a length list of skills including but not limited to Acrobatics, Command, Healing, Lore, Ranged Weapons, and Warcraft. Each skill grants the character access to a tree of relevant talents. You might know similar concepts from computer games. I also faintly remember that Exalted something pretty similar. These talents allow to further customize your character to your wishes even after character creation. I’ve included an example talent tree to the right. Tying talents to the various skills is definitely not a bad idea. It definitely helps players to find talents useful to them more quickly, because they just have to check those tied to their most important skills.

Continue reading Review: Conan — Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of (Part 2)

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