Archive for category Introduction
Ok so I know I have been non-posting, but hinting at the start of the 200 series of world building. So ya know what? Despite how much I know my friend over at Dan On Games is looking forward to a rant of some kind I am going to start here instead and categorize it as a rant 🙂 HAH!
So what the heck do I mean by First Steps? Well just like with building any other type of world or setting for any game or fiction you have a few things you need to know about your setting that can be summed up in a few questions. Once you get these down then you can really sort out the rest of it fairly quickly… well… as long as you have a little time, some imagination, a few other settings to steal from, oh and did I mention a little time… undisturbed… without other things going on… cause other wise this sort of thing takes forever. I mean if you have a job, and a life outside of gaming… well then…
Heh… see how I snuck the rant in there… 🙂
Anyway the questions that you need to ask to get to building a sci-fi setting/world are really similar to fantasy, or any other world really. The ones that I find the most important to answer go like this…
1 – Hard sci-fi, space opera, or pulp sci-fi? What you have here is the biggest aspect of sci-fi. Much like how much magic goes into a fantasy setting. Hard sci-ci is based on known science. Or even theoretical science that seems really plausible without a too much of a stretch. In hard sci-fi you will keep referring back to the science. A lot.. There are a lot of cyberpunk and a few hard sci-fi games out there that are good examples of this concept. Space Opera is more like Star Wars and Star Trek. You can mention the science but it is so advanced that you cant explain it so you don’t even try. You can use the science as color comments if you have a really good idea or want to make something dramatic, but it is not as important as in hard sci-fi. Pulp sci-fi is a category I may have made up for myself, but if you look back at the classic pulp sci-fi stories and the movies from the 40’s and 50’s that really got into the pulp style of sci-fi then you can see that they usually treated science with a mix of the space opera and the hard sci-fi at the same time. I mean that if you want to make a death ray out of a toaster to take on the 11th dimensional invading pumpkin people you better make sure you have three paperclips and a can opener… because SCIENCE!
Each one has something to recommend in it. Each one can be a heck of a lot of fun. All of them can be silly, or dramatic. Even with the little bit I put in there about pulp and science, it can be very dark and very serious for the characters, it is just the science itself that can seem, well, kinda like MacGyver on crack. There are a ton of other types of sci-fi but these three I find the easiest to start with.
2 – How important are humans? This is a very serious question to be asking in any sci-fi setting. You can find a lot of settings in which humans are the only sentient species. You can find even more in which humans are one of hundreds if not thousands of sentient species. You can find in the ones where there are hundreds of species that humans have been relegated to slave status in the universe, and others where they are the heads of empires. You can even find settings in which you question if humans are really human any more. The reason this is so important is because most sci-fi stories need a way to be relate-able to the players. And when you are dealing with technology that may seem like magic, and things that go outside of all current expectations of the future, a human being is going to be the way to tie things together and give you the most common point of reference.
In fantasy we look at how many races you want to have in a setting. And you will need to do that in sci-fi as well. But deciding the scope of human influence and impact will actually help you define that better.
3 – How big is the known universe? That question is going to seem to be a little misleading at first. But take it in the context of the previous question. What do humans know about what is out there? Are they still in their home solar system? Are they stuck to a single world? Do they roam the galaxy? This question is really just like the one for fantasy where we look at how big the world is. If you know the scope of your genre for the setting and you know how important humans are, you can give this a much needed look.
Now then unlike a fantasy setting where you need to have a really good idea of the primary environment (world/continents/nations) in sci-fi you can actually make up a lot of it as you need it a lot easier. You just have to take good notes as you go so you can call up worlds, or asteroid communities, or wandering groups of space stations as you go. You still will need to define your starting point rather well. But that goes for any type of game setting. It is just that this time the starting point is not limited to being a city or a nation, it can be just about anything.
4 – How far are we from today? This question will really lock in the flavor of your setting. I mean if we are in a galaxy hopping setting that is just next week… that is going to be completely different than a setting that is galaxy hopping a thousand years from now. It makes a big difference for what is human relate-able in regards to technology. And the sense of human achievement is going to be different. It will change the roles that people have in their lives regardless of race or gender. The jobs that can be done and even how trade and commerce are impacted.
You will notice that none of these questions actually try to define the technology. Talk about ships or how things move in space if you are even in space. These questions don’t ask what roles or classes of characters are going to be involved. They are all designed to get you thinking about scope. About how you want to define the realm you are creating.
Now then I have a setting mapped out and the following World Building 200 series will be answering these questions and adding some additional details to flesh out the world/s that are coming. Personally I am not trying to build a traditional sci-fi setting. So my answers to questions may seem a little weird. Then again this whole blog may seem a little weird. 🙂
Ok so that’s enough of a post for now.
Gimme the dice, I gotta give MacGyver a saving throw against science crack.
Play safe, and play well friends.
While I was at work today I had a few things run through my mind about where to run with this blog, where to start, and what could I say on so many topics.
With this being the second post on the main thread, I thought I would just start clipping off some of the things that will be coming up. I cannot tell what order they will be in or if there will be an order, or if as in this paragraph I will simply ramble until I get to something that may in fact resemble a point. Those that know me wont care… those that don’t know me may suggest medication. 🙂
Coming topics –
Games (G) I like or have loved over the years. Frank discussions on what I loved about the games, and if they are out of print may-hap tears for the loss to the rest of the world.
Specific game reviews (SGR). The strengths and weaknesses of some of the games I have played. Ratings will be given based on a scale of 1 to 5 (one = something I hate, five = I want in every game.Possible high score for a game in review 20. To be honest I am not sure I will ever give a score of 20, but I may surprise myself.) in the following categories –
- Fluff (the material that gives everything flavor, background, story, developed NPC’s and no not that marshmallow stuff some people put on sandwiches… looking at you lass, yes you)
- Crunch (the rules, now this one will be tricky because sometimes hard rules are good and sometimes easy makes things good)
- Mod (how easy can I break the rules, add house rules, or power game. Mod can be good or bad depending on how you play and what you like to play with)
- Fun (in spite of it all just how fun is this game and this setting)
RPG’s and smalls (RPGSS). (Smalls is a term that I use to describe what are classically known as children. Quite frankly because I try to treat them with just the same kind of respect I do adults, and that usually leaves me feeling that terms like kids or children have a connotation of them being less than adults.) To be honest part of this one stems from the fact that I started gaming at a young age, and the small that my dear lady tutor’s and nanny’s for has expressed an interest in the things that I enjoy doing… so that one is getting introduced to RPG’s.
Crazy Stuff I have created (CSIHC)- Worlds, characters, game engine ideas, game engine failures, settings, strange items, game martial arts, class variants, and ohhhh so much more. And to be totally honest, if I share it here please feel free to use it, share it, and have fun with it as long as you give me some credit for it. If I find my stuff getting into books that others are paying for, and I am not even getting name recognition for my work… -_-
History and Philosophy (HNP)- Not of the world in general but of RPG’s. Why do we play them, how old is the practice, what drives us to unleash our imaginations this way all that sort of fun stuff. This topic type may get a little ranty but I promise to have at least a few facts or historical tidbits that may be of value to trivia collectors.
RANT! (R!) – Yeah if you see this topic someone, or something has gotten my goat in the game community. Not the hardest thing to do, my goat likes to wander and seems to give in to anyone with a bit of rope. But usually I will save this for things like, oh the old “D&D is demonic and it leads children to worship Satan, or Rush Limbaugh or what ever,” crowd.
Product placement (PP). This is going to be me talking about a local game shop, a place to get PDF’s online or something else like that which has stuck me as cool as a way to get a hold of games and game accessories.
I may add more categories in the future but those are the ones I intend to start with. I will save tags to help with more description on a specific post.
Given the work week I may not get another post until the weekend, but who knows…
Keep gaming and gimme the dice, its my turn to roll to hit 🙂