It's not total block as I have plenty of ideas for D&D-esque adventures, even adventure ideas for Star Wars. Something about Starpunk specifically is blocking me, so it's time for more self-examination/ blog therapy.
As near as I can tell, the problem is that I am working in a vacuum. Established settings already have a life to them. If I want to run an adventure against a crime syndicate in Star Wars, I know that I can grab the Hutts for it and that my players will have a good idea of the environment, the alien mentalities, everything that makes the adventure breathe. The bulk of the work has been done for me in these settings and I don't really have to explain anything.
But in building my own universe, I have to start from scratch. This is complicated by my avoidance of the Planet of Hats Trope. I didn't want to pigeon-hole my aliens into specific stereotypes, but as a result I destroyed any short-hand I could use for myself and my players to establish the feel of the setting. I am discovering that trying to build a setting as huge as infinite worlds with infinite aliens, a type of short-hand might be a necessity I shouldn't have over-looked.
So now I have infinite choices with nothing established for me, and I'm getting mojo-lock. What's worse is I am beginning to question whether or not I have lost my creativity. As an artist, the very idea scares the sh#t out of me. My dogged determination hasn't let me quit but the more I push, the more I'm stuck. I have spent hours of time coming up with nothing.
Fortunately everything I have done in the way of equipment and rules is good and generic enough for a space-fantasy style game. But it is clear that I am going to have to completely rework my setting idea if it's going to be of any use to me. I'm also going to have to get over my desire to stay away from tropes used in other common games if I am going to make this setting accessible to my players.
It's also possible that Sisyphus is clawing at my brain again. I though I would save myself work by creating racial templates, which is true, but what I also did was get rid of any setting flavor that individual races might introduce. One piece of advice I came across on the net was to "build 4-5 major races and let other aliens be background set dressing". In other words, flesh out a handful of core races, and I can add new races as I see fit as set dressings for adventures. If the design is popular, then I can always add said race to the core with a more fully fleshed out background.
Ugh. I thought that creating a homebrew setting would be easy. At least it's giving me stuff to write about.