In my last Dungeoncraft post I promised some details on the history of the “Ad Astra!” universe. My initial idea was to present my players with a world not much different from we have today. Most of the major nations were still there and each super power had its own space program with space stations in earth’s orbit, minor colonies on Moon and Mars and mining operations in the asteroid belt. But then I decided that I wanted to do things differently.
The globular cluster Omega Centauri is about 18,300 lightyears away from our solar system and contains several generations of stars, so that some scientist believe that Omega Centauri could be the core of a former dwarf galaxy that has been captured by the Milky Way. In “Ad Astra!” this is the home of a human civilization. Several hundred years ago a colony ship crashed on an habitable world in the Omega Centauri cluster. When the 10,000 colonists awoke from their cryogenic chambers they at once found out that something was terribly wrong. Nobody could remember anything from their past – not even their own names. All other memories were still intact. When they started salvaging the crashed colony ship, they found out that the ship’s main computer was still mostly intact but all historical databases were blank and the navigational subprocessor was broken beyond repair. They were stranded and didn’t even know where they initially came from. So they decided to start picking up the pieces, building a city from the remains of the ship. They called their new home “Citadel” after their crashed vessel.
Brave New World
This concept allows me to shape the civilization from the ground up. And since most of the original space ship is still salvageable it’s plausible that the colonist would be ready to return to the stars after only a few centuries. The reason how they crashed on Citadel and why they have no memories of their past lives shall remain a mystery. This could even be an interesting hook for an “Ad Astra!” campaign.
The fact that the Omega Centauri cluster is so far away from Earth has several advantages, too: not much is know about that region of space so that even an astronomy-geek wouldn’t know that much about it. If you run an SF campaign closer to Earth there’s always the problem that one of your players may for example notice when you turned Betelgeuse into a dwarf star by mistake. If you choose a far away region of space you can just use some solar system creation rules (like the ones in GURPS Space or Traveller) and create your own stars, worlds, nebulae, etc.
This shall be enough for today. As always I am interested in your thoughts, so feel free to leave your comments!
While looking for some inspiration for a Call of Cthulhu adventure I stumbled upon Charles Stross’ short story “A Colder War“. The story is set into an alternative timeline that follows the events in Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness”. The novellete’s protagonist is the CIA analyst Roger Jourgensen who lives in a world that is on the brink of mutual assured destruction. And this time the world powers have more than mere nuclear weapons in their arsenals. But I don’t want to spoil the story here, so if you haven’t read “A Colder War” yet, please do so before continuing. You have been warned!
Continue reading A Colder War
There are quite a few boardgames or miniature skirmish games with elaborate background stories that almost beg to turned into a roleplaying game. In some cases the developers of these games came up with their own roleplaying game. And some games like Heavy Gear or Savage Worlds can be used as either a miniatures game or a roleplaying game.
Recently a friend of mine proposed we could play some Battletech again. Battletech is a tactical board game where you control one or several huge mecha called Battlemechs. The game was initially created by the now defunct FASA Corporation. His idea was to use the rules from Mechwarrior (we decided to use the 2nd Edition rules) to create some mechwarriors that are in charge of their own unit of mercenaries fighting in the wars of the 31st century. We will use standard battletech rules for the mech-vs-mech fights and the roleplaying game for all other encounters. When everything turns out as planned, we all will have a great time.
But this made me thinking. There are a lot of games that would work great as a combat system for roleplaying games. Take some miniatures skirmish game like Games Workshop’s Necromunda for example. In that game each player controls a gang in the Underhive of a huge 41st millenium megacity. The combat rules are very detailed and there are even rules for campaigns and improving the stats and skills of the gangers. So, why not turn it into a fully-fledged roleplaying game? You can of course write up you own rules but it’s much easier to keep the combat rules of the skirmish game intact and add some other rules for the non-combat parts.
This is easy to do with a roleplaying game like FUDGE. FUDGE allows the GM to choose the attributes and skills he needs for his campaign. So just use Necromundas Stats and Abilities as detailed in the rules of the skirmish game and you’re done. You just have make sure that the fighting skills for the combat part of the game can easily be represented using FUDGE. Necromunda like all GW tabletop miniature games uses WS (Weapon Skill) and BS (Ballistic Skill) for combat checks. All stats including WS and BS can usually range from 1 to 10. FUDGE normally uses skills and attributes ranked from Terrible to Superb with 5 steps in between. For normal gangers you can set Terrible=2, Poor=3 etc. until Superb=8 and you’re mostly done. You can now easily convert between both systems. That could work for other GW games as well.
Another game that comes in mind, when thinking about boardgames that would make a great background for a roleplaying games is Crimson Skies. Crimson Skies is a tactical boardgame much like Battletech (it was created by FASA too), but this time you control fighter planes in an alternative early 20th century. The background is pretty detailed and gives a lot of opportunities for adventures outside the cockpit. For a fitting roleplaying game for Crimson Skies I would just take Spirit of the Century since it’s close enough to FUDGE to being easily adaptable and it’s already the right genre. Just use the standard Crimson Skies rules for air combat and you’re done.
What are your thoughts on that matter? Have you already used a boardgame as part of the roleplaying experience? As always, feel free to post your thought into the comment section below!