Friday, October 28, 2011

Two sci-fi RPG campaign premises

I've been thinking about what to do in the very likely case that my D&D campaign is over (and I'll know in about a week).  I had two ideas that percolated up, not that either may be the one, but I thought I'd share them here.  As a bit of a notice, neither are particularly original.

The first was cribbed from an old issue of Shadis Magazine (#45) called "Timeship--Titanic" in which the famous cruise ship has actually been hurled through a time/space vortex, cursed to wander the continuum for all time (or the end of the campaign).  Along the way it picks up people from various places and eras to make up a motley crew.

So basically the Titanic is a gigantic TARDIS without a Time Lord.  There's a couple of issues with this, the first is the word "gigantic."  The Doctor's TARDIS is small, a phone booth, which can easily fit into the utility room of any spaceship or wherever the current adventure is locating.  That means the characters can just show up without a lot of immediate impact.  Parking a giant ship somewhere is a bit more noteworthy.

Also time travel, even uncontrolled, can be problematic.  Players are clever and often unrestrained, which can cause some headaches down the road.  But I love the idea of the PC's as essentially Lost in Space aboard a creepy death ship.

The other option is a Star Wars RPG I'm calling "The Darkness Between the Stars."  Basically the set-up is that Bail Organa and Mon Mothma need to very quietly lay the foundation for reclaiming the Republic from the Emperor and his new henchman Darth Vader.  In order to do this, they commission several small teams  with the task of establishing contacts in the underworld, raising money outside of the visible economy, and outfitting rebel cells.

So you've got the basic SWRPG characters all with a reason to get together, so can trot out Darth Vader and a young up-and-coming Boba Fett as villains, but why stop there?  You know Vader has Jedi Hunters out there looking for the stragglers or those not at the temple when he killed everyone.  Moreover, you don't have to invent a new villain for the Star Wars universe--you can use TIE fighters, storm troopers, etc...  Although you ought to, because one of the big pitfalls of the campaign is that you can't definitively win.  You'll never defeat Darth Vader, you'll never kill the Emperor, at best you're just going to be setting the stage so that some farmboy from Tattooine can come along and save the day.

Although, if you really want to have some fun, run the campaign straight for a while and then have the PC's get a news report about some family on a backwater desert planet getting killed by sand raiders or Obi Wan Kenobi being arrested by the Empire.  Or go ahead and have Bail Organa get caught and suddenly Organa's daughter is Vader's creepy emo Sith apprentice.  Then the gloves are off and the PC's can save the galaxy.

And you can call the ret-conning "do a Lucas."

And do yourself a favor and use the old West End Games rules.  It'll help you also dial down the superhuman abilities the Jedi have been given in later rules.  What's interesting is that most of that dial-up of ability doesn't come from the movies (look again and you'll see) but from the Cartoon Network Clone Wars series, particularly the original non-CGI mini-series, where Anakin Skywalker can shove away waves of robots and crushes tanks with a gesture of his hand.

Plus, when the Jedi PC pops out a lightsaber in public, just drop the hammer of the full power of the Empire on him.  That'll teach 'em quick.

1 comment:

  1. WEG 1st edition Star Wars is just about the perfect RPG to me. Easy to learn, fun & fast to play, a pleasure to
    read, great art throughout, a setting everyone knows and can hop right into, and a nice hardcover means my books are still practically mint condition!


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