Podcast Episode 54 – Sci-fi Collaboration with JP

In this episode of the Podcast, myself and Johannes Paavola begin initial discussions for a Sci-fi project that we’re planning to collaborate on:

Title Music Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/XTaKeRuX/Empty_Grave/Shinigami Used under creative commons licence:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Podcast Episode 47 – Midderlands, 5E, Sci-fi and other projects

In this podcast episode I talk about some of the projects that I’ve been working on and some stuff I’m about to start work on:


Title Music

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/XTaKeRuX/Empty_Grave/Shinigami

Used under creative commons licence:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Odd Alien Encounters

It was pointed out by my lovely wife yesterday that–although I’d done a lot of fantasy themed Random Things articles I’d not really done (m)any science-fiction ones. Looking back I found that she was right, I think his is partly because I tend to create random tables inspired by games I’m running and–for right or wrong–most of those are fantasy or horror-fantasy based.

To try and re-dress this please find below a table of random aliens that could be encountered in a typical sci-fi game.

Please note: Each of these would benefit from a bit of elaboration by the GM, nor do they apply specific game mechanics.

No.Description
1A race of sentient, floating crystals who communicate through subtle harmonies and manipulate their environment telephathically. They find normal forms of biological life barbaric, viewing them as little better than viruses.
2These aliens are descended from reptiles, their young are born from eggs and they are cold-blooded. The internal temperature of their ships is far hotter than comfortable for humans and they are viewed as merciless by other species.
3The individuals of this race are actually remote-holograms produced by a huge alien computer that is capable of transmitting/sharing information over vast distances with little to no delay. The computer has observed that other races feel more comfortable communicating with someone like themselves as so created the holograms to add it's studies.
4A race of insects who come together as colonies when and if the need arises, an individual insect is no more intelligent than an average earth-ant but the colony minds are often have mighty intellects, although they are very colony minded.
5These aliens are descended from amphibious/aquatic life, although they are now evolved to survive on land as well as in the water, they still have numerous adaptions such as gills, fins, etc to help them survive in an aquatic environment. Their uncanny grasp of 3-dimensional movement makes them excellent space pilots, although on their own ships they prefer to fill the compartments with oxygenated water.
6Whilst appearing as metallic humanoids, the members of this race are actually robot suits 'piloted' by swarms of sentient nano-bots who are on a mission of exploration seeking out new life and more advanced technologies. When they discover new tech they dissemble and examine it, using their upgraded knowledge to enhance their vessel and create the next improved generation of nano-bots.

Initial thoughts for Star Hex

We’re coming up to the finalé of our Dungeon World campaign this week, my plan afterwards is to have a couple of weeks off and then make a start on the next campaign. I’ve been very much enamoured of all things OSR (except THAC0) recently and used some elements of the good, old-fashioned hex crawl in my Dungeon World campaign, so it seemed only natural that I should continue down this path with my next campaign. I don’t want to jump straight into running another fantasy game so close on the heels of Dungeon World so I decided to turn to science-fiction (or science-fantasy depending on your definition), influenced by the fact I’m reading a lot of White Star at the moment.

Continue reading

Star Hex

Aside

Star Hex

 

Given my recent love affair with James M Spahn’s White Star–you can see my video review of it here–I’m thinking of running some OSR style sci-fi when when Dungeon World campaign wraps up in a few weeks or so; I’ve been looking at the concept of hex crawls and have even taken a few ideas from them to use in my ongoing FFG Star Wars campaign and the methodology seems to work well in a sci-fi genre. Given that so many sci-fi franchises have effectively been reskinning fantasy races to use as aliens for a long time, I thought it might be interesting to do the reverse and run a science-fiction setting where the fantasy analogues were embraced openly.

I’m not talking about a Spelljammer-esque fantasy in space style game but a science-fantasy game (ala Star Wars) that takes direct inspiration from fantasy races and ideas to use in the setting.

All About Aspects: Sci-fi High Concepts

Sci-Fi High Concepts

star-wars-145063_960_720Okay, now we’ve explained the basic formatting in our previous post, we’re going to provide a series of ideas for creating the description, job and twist sections of the high concept for a science-fiction character.

There are lots of different types of science-fiction ranging from hard sci-fi to space opera, post apocalyptic and everything in-between; in this article we’re shooting for a more general science-fiction vibe, but we may cover specific sub-genres in future articles. Continue reading

Star Trek hack: Boldly going where several people have gone before

Do you ever throw yourself into something and then, it’s only halfway through that you think ‘I wonder if someone else has done anything like this?’
That was the position I found myself in when asked to come up with a hack for a Star Trek (pre-Enterprise era) game by my friend Simon (you can see my two previous posts in this blog for details), I fell prey to my usual downfall of leaping straight in and starting to look at the mechanics rather than stopping to consider my options; this is something of a normal response for me and is something i’m working on. However, at least this time I had the good sense to stop and look around before I got too entrenched.
As I was wading through hacking Diaspora’s skill list and working out whether or not Professions (as per the Fate Toolkit were the best way to go) I flicked through Jacob Poss’ big list of Fate related links (viewable here http://walkninginshadows.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/fate-core-important-links.html) and did a simple search for the term ‘trek’; I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me that there were a number of results (given Star Trek’s popularity).
One in particular caught my eye, an adaption by Aaron M. Sturgill (available here http://trailofdice.weebly.com/uploads/6/9/2/1/6921148/star_trek_fate.pdf) which seemed to do everything that we needed for a game but had a light enough touch that it could be expanded and adapted to the pre-Enterprise era of the game; it also seemed to use a modified and simplified version of the Diaspora rules (which was the track i’d been taking). I think it will be ideal for the game that we are doing, and many thanks to Mr Sturgill for making his work on the subject available 🙂

I suppose the lesson that I should take from all of this is that, despite trying to rain in my instincts to tinker with mechanics, I still have a way to go and that, certainly for Fate, there is an awful lot of very good material available (free of charge out that) that can be tweaking or used for your own games without having to start off completely from scratch.

Preparing a Player Handout for a Wild Blue one-off

I was flattered to be ask by theSwamper (of the Youtube RPG brigade) to run a one-off session of fate for himself and Captain Gothnog, theSwamper is going to be running a game of Fate Core next month and is looking to get more of a handle on the rules and so asked if i’d be interested in running a one-off game for himself and Gothnog over the week or so; having watched a number of Youtube videos by both of the gentlemen in question, and having wanted to expand my GM-ing experience beyond my usual circle of players for quite some time (not that there’s anything wrong with my usual players, but it’s a good thing to test yourself and grow as a GM) I was, of course, extremely interested.
What sort of Fate game should I run?

This was the first question I asked myself, the only criteria that theSwamper had given me was that it had to be a one-off, it had to use the Fate Core rules (since this was the version of the game that they would be playing) and they would prefer it to be more action-orientated rather than any sort of political thriller or deep investigative scenario. Normally I have to admit that Fate Accelerated would be my choice for a one-off game since I personally find it easier to pick up, however Fate Core is a fine version of the system and one I also use regularly for my Rogue Trader game so I am familiar with both  iterations of the Fate system (since they’re effectively just slightly different builds of the same system anyway).
This left me with the choice of what setting to run the game in, since it was a one-off crossing multiple time-zones and (as always) anticipating a number of technical hitches and startup problems with the internet/google+ hangouts I didn’t think that going through the setting generation section would be the best use of our time. Flipping through the Fate Worlds books my eyes turned to the Wild Blue setting by Brian Engard, a firefly-esque wild west setting on an alien world where human colonists had driven out the magical Folk who had previously been the indigenous people but then found that they had started to manifest strange powers with each generation; the Queen of the humans created the Wardens, people with powers designed to police other people with powers.
For those interested you can find my video review of Wild Blue and the first Fate Worlds book here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTQIqUvYd6Q

Wild Blue works for me on a number of levels, it includes elements of magic and a freeform system for powers that I really like and that isn’t unduly complex, the technology level is also (with a few exceptions) that of the mythic wild west, and thus is easy to grasp for players since everyone has seen at least one western movie, plus it has the Sky Rail, and the image of a steam powered trail on floating rails very much appeals to me.
The Great Sky-Train Robbery
In a previous post (available here) I hashed out the bare-bones of a scenario where the players would be attempting to rescue a Sky Rail train (and the citizens on it) from a group of hi-jackers, skimming through this scenario I thought that (with some tweaks) it would make an excellent scenario to run for theSwamper and Captain Gothnog since it should be fairly action packed and should showcase a lot of the Fate rules which, after all, is one of the points of running the game. TheSwamper has been generous enough to say that they do not mind me filming the session to put up on my Red Dice Diaries Youtube Channel when we gen characters and run it next Saturday (14/12/13); obviously this is an introductory game and one designed for the purpose of learning/discussing the rules so there may be more rules chatter than would be normal for a game, i’m really looking forward to running it though and seeing what the guys make of my scenario 🙂
To give them a flavour of what sort of setting Wild Blue is, I created a small player handout for them to look at (also to give them a chance to ask any questions before the game), the handout is available here: