Wednesday, August 13, 2014

GM Wednesday! - Uninspired

Confession: I have been fighting GM Block for 5 years now, and it's still going.

I have been getting by with playing in other people's games, running Pathfinder Society adventures on occasion, and trying to start a Pathfinder game (since that's all my gaming group is willing to play). My games last maybe one or two sessions before I find myself bored.

I am Uninspired.

Why? It might be my recent divorce, that time I spent a year and a half on unemployment after being laid off, the fact that my usual gaming group doesn't want to play anything but D20 derivatives, or I'm just completely burned out. I don't know.

Well now I'm moved to a new city, which means I have the option to start a new game group at a new FLGS. I just can't get myself motivated to build a campaign.

I want to run sci-fi. I suppose this is part of the problem. It's such a vast genre that it's difficult to pin down what I really want, as well as what's going to keep me interested. I want Star Wars but not Star Wars. I want space-pulp but I want something that feels more unique than "Here's a galaxy full of aliens and here's your cargo ship. Enjoy." I want an open playground but I also need focus.

(Pardon the verbal diarrhea but this blog is very much a therapy for my soul. This is stream-of-consciousness writing so I'll be asking questions and maybe coming up with answers as well.)

So I've been doing some busy work, hoping to jump-start my creativity. All of which I have posted here for Free Stuff Fridays, but it is still just dancing around the issue of my lack of game.

Here are some of the ideas I have going.
Aliens- yes
FTL - yes
Blasters - yes
Feel - very Star Wars-y minus the Jedi order

Humans are sort of a minority. We arrived in the systems on generation arks. Earth has passed into legend as well as the reasons we left. We are now the gypsies of the sector with no home world and at the mercy of alien empires.

Hmm, the last bit struck a chord.

It's hard (for me) to just build alien races in a vacuum without feeling like I'm just slapping tropes together. But maybe what my setting needs is a bit of class-struggle.

So let's say there are 3-5 Major empirical races. They own the big swathes of the sector and might be involved with a little covert action against each other. Should any of these empires be likable? My gut says no. Each should be oppressive in their own way. I'm feeling that I should lift a theme from Firefly, where the heroes are struggling to maintain their freedom in a universe that demands they choose sides. I think players will like that.

So now we've got the humans, the ultimate symbol of freedom and low-class existence, being homeless gypsies and all. But they can't fly alone, otherwise I would just be playing Firefly. Nope, humans need some pals to fly around with who also long for freedom. Who better than those other, lesser species that have been conquered by the five empires?

Wow! I just got more done creatively in this blog post than I have in 5 years. Not only do I have a setting that isn't just Star Wars with the serial numbers filed off, I have a Theme: Freedom. And now that I have that theme, I know what kind of adventure hooks I can throw at my players. I know that the greatest threat to them is being forced to "toe-the-line".

I now only have to design 5 mega governments rather than one for each innumerable world the heroes land on (which is good because if they travel enough things are going to get repetitive). But I still have room to introduce new alien species as subordinates to their respective empire. And they're societies will be based around their oppressors, but with a little local flavor added to it.

Now I just need a name for this setting. Any suggestions?


  1. Have you looked at Slipstream for Savage Worlds?

    1. I bought it shortly after it came out. The problem is that no one I currently know is willing to play it. They want Star Wars, not Flash Gordon. But thanks for reminding me. I should pull it out and give it a re-read and see if anything else in my brain sparks up.

  2. Dude, have I ever found the setting for you:

    I'm looking forward to Savaging this when it's released. In the meantime, the author's got enough material already on his blog to create several campaigns with if one is so inclined.

  3. Slipstream is Flash Gordon, but the difference from Star Wars ( imo) is in how you describe it. Sure, the Slip fragments are just little chunks floating in a breathable SW planets are monoclimates where a breath mask is all you need on an asteroid ( unless space slugs produce breatheable atmospheres and pressures inside , while their mouths are open.)
    In other words, call them blasters, droids, and star destroyers rather than ray guns, mechanical men, and war rockets, and surely Bjorn Stroninthearm is your uncle.

  4. I too was going to suggest Slipstream when I read this. It really is Star Wars (original movie) without all the baggage of Star Wars. I ran a one-shot for my group and I told them - "you can plan Star Wars and be a hero, or you can do something like Slipstream and be THE HERO." I had a lot of fun prepping it and running it, and it was more fun than any Star Wars game I had played in (either campaign or one-shot).


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