Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sci-Fi Wednesday! - Back to the Sci-Fi Design!

I kind of copped out by using Daring Tales of the Space Lanes. I really should forge my own setting if I'm going to blog about. However in my brain I'm hearing "If it ain't broke..." Daring Tales hit the mark so well for the type of game I want to play that trying to build a new set of rules is pointless.

To make this design post-worthy, I need to design something that doesn't already exist for Savage Worlds (a prospect that is getting harder as time goes on). Now while DTotSL does give me all the rules I need, what it lacks is a defined setting. So if I continue these design posts, I should focus my energies there.


A bit of a recap but I want to make it clear what I want from this game since sci-fi is a huge subject.

  • The setting shouldn't take itself too seriously. Capture the feel of late 70's early 80's TV sci-fi. Great examples are Buck Rogers and the original Battlestar Galactica, as well as the original Star Wars trilogy.
  • Aliens should be fun in appearance. It isn't necessary to make aliens so alien that you wouldn't want to date one let alone know which way it's facing.
  • All space ships and no star-fighters. Yeah, it goes against the tropes of the shows I listed above but rpg games should be more about teamwork. Plus I want more of an "age of sail" or Flash Gordon feel to space travel. The ships should have crews.
  • The heroes are freelancers that work for a guild of troubleshooters that often get hired to solve the problems that the government either can't, won't, or is causing. Missions will vary from finding ancient relics to saving kidnap victims to ending the career of evil governors. All while contending with local law enforcement who hate the heroes for butting into their business, to rival mercenaries, to the high halls of the government itself.
  • Keep in mind that the heroes are not well trained, well disciplined soldiers and agents. They are desperate and slightly mad freebooters that have a heart of gold, empty pockets, and an aversion to the Stellar Authority.

Map Zones of the Galaxy

  • The Core Worlds: These are the home-worlds and seats of power for those races that control the Stellar Authority. The closer you get to the core, the more paperwork you will need to file and the more restricted general freedoms become. These worlds are clean, well developed, oppressive, and sterile (in both environments and attitudes). The best tech can be found in the core worlds but it isn't always shared with the outer systems.
  • The Outer Systems: These worlds are made up of those races that have been annexed by the Stellar Authority. Rules are slightly looser here as the reach of the Stellar Authority begins to show. Freedoms vary depending on the regional governors, and the loose grip of the Stellar Authorities allows these governors to pursue their own agendas.
  • The Rim: The Stellar Authority has a much harder time maintaining their grip on the Rim worlds due to the lack of technologies and resources. The Stellar Authority could build up these worlds, increasing their tech and their foothold but it runs the risk of letting those technologies slip into the hands of more rebellious elements. The Stellar Authority prefers to keep the Rim as low-tech as possible to keep them dependent on the Stellar Authority trade and ensuring they will never be strong enough to become a threat. The SA prefers to keep local warlords on their payroll and turn a blind eye to how a world's resources are exploited as long as the SA gets its share. SA warships maintain patrols but the won't get directly involved in a planet's problems until a warlord grows to be a potential threat. 
  • The Wild: These planets are un-settled worlds that harbor wild dangers and ancient secrets. Some have become the refuge of criminals or those seeking to escape the SA. While beyond the typical reach of the SA, SA scout ships can be found keeping an eye on the Wild for external threats to their empire.
Now that we have a concept, it's time to look at what sort of optional rules I might want to use in this setting.

Key Factions

  • The Stellar Authority: Basically the government. It is a bloated, self-centered bureaucracy made up of many core world races but ruled by a race known as the the Executives, who prize order and efficiency over all things. While the SA has brought order to the Core and Outer Worlds, it comes at the cost of personal freedoms. And despite the Executives promises of efficiency, corruption within their ranks threatens the enforced peace they have created.
  • The Criminal Syndicates: Capitalizing on the growing dissatisfaction within the empire, criminal clans have risen to bring illicit pleasures and stolen goods to the populace. Some Executives have even joined the ranks of these clans, seeing better promotional opportunities as well as a more efficient method of governance (provided murder doesn't make you squeamish). The Syndicates run their operations from the Rim but frequently smuggle and occasionally pirate closer to the Core.

Optional Rules

I will use the following optional rules from the core book.

  • Critical Failures: I want some good humor in this action-y, pulp adventure game. In fact, I typically use this rule in any game. For me, it's good to let the heroes fail to keep the game interesting.
  • Joker's Wild: Again, it's just a fun rule.
I considered using the Multiple Languages rule but it gets fiddly trying to role-play it. All Stellar Authority races will be able to understand Galactic Trade so actually learning another races native language should be uncommon and a big deal.

So now that the concept is locked down in my head, it's time to start looking at character creation. See you next week.


Why not share some of my generation's music?
One of my favorite "one-hit wonders" of the eighties.

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