Friday, May 13, 2011

Rogue Space...inspirations

Listen; there's a hell of a good universe next door: let's go.
--e.e. cummings

I am not sure if it started with Space, I think it goes back further to ALIEN...a small group exploring a derelict spaceship.  Sure its obviously a technically advanced setting but the act itself is as old as humanity itself...exploring the unknown.  I think that's what makes the best of sci-fi resonate: the truth it represents and shows to us, just in a different wrapper.  Star Wars (at leas EP: 4) and really one could say the whole trilogy is a big play on the Arthurian myths.  Luke is Arthur, Ben is Merlin, Vader is Mordred, and Leia is a different spin on Morganna...yada, yada, yada.  Gene Roddenberry with Star Trek attempted to tackle social space.

So how does any of this relate to the idea of Rogue Space RPG? well I think it may only tangentially.  I know and like a number of sci-fi RPG's...but none of them held the same dungeon delving mystery and exploration that D&D did.  I am not sure if it was us, or all the extraneous stuff I'll term chrome in most sci-fi rpg's.  I didn't want to worry about low or high gravity, batteries, computer programs, cybernetics, bionics, star ship construction, and a whole host of other details that seem to be mandatory parts of sci-fi games.  Okay, so Star Frontiers should be right up my alley...but the flying monkeys, shmoos, insectoids, snake leach aliens felt...well lame.  They took the juice right out of the game like some aliens did in Star Trek.

It's tough because races like Klingons, Vulcans, Romulans etc. all seem plausible..but Ferengi? For whatever reason not so much...yet the Alien and even the queen in Aliens does work?  I can't quite put my finger on why, but for whatever reason that's just the way it is for me.

Okay so getting back to that whole human experience "exploration" theme. In fantasy RPG's this is such a given and natural part of the playing experience that its part of almost every rulebook-random tables setting up locations to explore.  A dungeon, a ruin, a monastery...maybe a castle, or village or town, but that get a lot harder to do.  So scale plays a big part in the exploration theme and the potential burden a referee will experience.  populating a 30 room dungeon takes work, a village and shops a lot more, a city? whew that is a ton of work!!

Okay if a city is about a whole damn planet,  eco systems, flora, fauna, gravity tides, weather patterns cities, defenses, cultures, politics, I mean HOLY CRAP!  Okay that was easy?  So how about a freaking solar system, no wait, a full on star sector!  In space no one may hear you scream...but brother you have every reason to be hollering!  It seemed overwhelming in the sense that the details that go into making a dungeon are not possibly for a whole damn planet.  So you short change that and you are left with kind of lame half-assed game.  Plus the expectation (given our own instant on demand computer usage and knowledge) grows more exponential in the future.  If I can download blue prints of the Kremlin and know what the weather will be like from satellite images in Hong much more should players know?  If satellites in space can read license plates now...why can't character 500 years from now do more?  How do you plan for all of that in your adventure over a planet...or solar system?

So I think with Rogue Space I am going to keep everything small, focus on exploration and discovering what is out there in the inky vast darkness.  Much like any fantasy RPG, Rogue Space assumes players are on the frontiers, their ship is their refuge, and danger is should be expected anytime they leave it.  I am not sure how...or if...I'll really answer any of my own concerns, but it will be a game I'd like to play and will fit my own ideas of what makes neat sci-fi from Space hulk, to Aliens, and hopefully beyond.

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