Wednesday, December 10, 2014

GM Wednesday! - Races

Last week we did a rough sketch of the setting basics. 

Now it's time to fill in the details a bit more. Let's look at some key Sci-Fi setting tropes and figure out if I want them in my game or not.


Yes please. But as stated, I'm not going for avant-garde sci-fi here. I want to capture the whimsicality of space pulp. That means most aliens will be humanoid in design or be based on terrestrial animal traits. There may be some truly alien creatures that the heroes run across in their adventures, but it's unlikely that the heroes will be talking to them or relating to them in any way. That's what being truly alien is. If a flower starts talking to you in a British accent, it takes away a lot of the mystery.

So we're talking fur suits and rubber foreheads. And although they may not look exactly human, they'll act like us with the same virtues and vices.


Servant droids are a staple of 70-80's sci-fi, but it's also thinly disguised slavery. We accept it because we want to believe that droids will never be so sophisticated that we might think of them as a life form. Despite the fact that C-3PO made decisions, exhibited fear for his personal safety, and spoke just like a human...he was still property. Property that could easily pass the Turing test.

Well my initial concept said 70's-80's sci-fi, which blissfully ignored these issues.

And so will I.

However in keeping with the light-hearted feel of this game, I'm going to have to completely alter the racial traits that the sci-fi companion gives to Constructs. If you take a look at Kryten or Marvin, you'll realize that robots in whimsical sci-fi are nuerotic, and are frequently screaming in fear or perhaps boredom. They get Shaken, a lot. But if played right, a droid character could be hilarious. 

Rimmer ~ "Kryten, will it work?"
Kryten ~ "Lie mode... Of course, sir. No worries!"

Military Constructs will keep the +2 vs being shaken since they are meant to be simple-minded killing machines.


It actually isn't necessary to add humans as playable characters, and some interesting games might come of not having them at all (or making them all npc badguys). It all comes down to what your group wants to play. My old group considered excluding humans from science fantasy to be a cardinal sin, despite the fact that every one of them played alien characters in Star Wars the RPG.

I really don't want to deal with Earth and its development in this game. To me, Earth would only ground the game in our reality. Also I'm a little tired of the Ubiquitous humans making up over 60% of the known universe.

In this setting humans are a minority. In fact they are homeless vagabonds. We arrived in this new galaxy on slower than hell generation ships, leaving our doomed earth behind. How or why was it doomed? Ask three different Humans and you'll get 10 different stories. The fact is, nobody remembers.

As for that long journey, well it made humans a little nutty. We have a hard time with authority and sitting still. We don't eat our vegetables and wash behind our ears. We are the street trash of the Empire's "Polite" society.

So what I will need is...

  • A potential reworking of Humans, possibly adding in the Crude or Outsider Hindrance.
  • Rework the Constructs to be a bit more comical (except for military constructs which should be scary).
  • Rather than stat out every species in the universe, I'm going to go easy on my self and make some species templates (or likely add to the ones that already exist in the Sci-Fi Companion).

Speaking of the Sci-Fi Companion, you're probably asking "Why do you need to prep anything beyond the style of game you want? Won't the Sci-Fi Companion fill in all of the gaps?"

THE SFC is cool and I will borrow some stuff from it. However it is a generic book and includes a lot of things I don't want. Savage Worlds is a toolkit system where you can take and leave whatever you don't want.

What I want to do is present a booklet to my players that they can use where I don't have to keep saying "No, that's been cut from this game." and "No, we aren't doing that." It will help to keep the quibbling down and present a better picture to my players of what the setting is all about.

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