Friday, June 29, 2012

Science Fiction Party Mix

So I asked the fellas (my gaming group, which currently consists of Dave, Ray, Marcus and Lee), "What elements of Science Fiction do you like and want to see in our upcoming Science Fiction game?" I also asked them to use one word to describe each element.

The results were quite interesting.

Note that as I previously mentioned, Lee will likely
not be joining us which sucks, but I get it. It's too 'close to home' for him to play a Science Fiction game when he doesn't get to run his homebrew Sci-Fi thing.*

The good news is we could occasionally see the return of Jeff, as we've seen him pop by periodically in the past few months for Champions. That'd be really nice.

Now, on to the responses...

Dave Likes
Aliens, Setting and Technology

Dave is a setting guy. He likes there to be an established universe full of things he can find out about, ask about and go investigate. Oddly, he is less inclined to do these things in a milieu where everything is a mystery.

I'll try to explain, though take my explanation with a grain of salt as I don't one hundred percent understand it myself...

Dave like RIFTS. One of the reasons he likes it so much is that he feels there are cool things to do and 'see' and yet a lot of room to move around and install your own elements and ideas. When Dave learns that there is a base on the moon that may have a portal to, say, Phase World, Dave wants to check it out because he knows what Phase World is before that adventure presented itself.

On the other hand, if we're playing a more generic Sci-Fi game and strange signals from a rogue moon indicate a man-made base with, possibly, a Quantum Space Fold gate to another dimension, he isn't so jazzed because it doesn't link in to a world, setting or thing he knows.

I am the opposite in many ways. While I do like playing Star Trek for example, where I know the Species, technology and other elements, I don't want to investigate the Klingon Homeworld, Deep Space 9 or even Janus 6. I want to boldly go where no one has gone before. I want to take the familiar into the unknown.

More on this in an upcoming post.

As for technology, Dave is a real gadget junkie when it comes to RPGs and video and computer games. He initially couldn't get into Traveller because it's tech seemed so 'primitive' compared to the Sci-Fi he is more familiar with from games, movies and anime. No 3-D, Holographic, free floating control panels? No nanotech healing?

Granted I do include some of that in my Traveller in order to beef up the 'visuals' of the setting but I noticed a lot of the time that's all it is. If Dave doesn't see the 'trappings' of a Sci-Fi future, then he views it as outdated when there is virtually nothing he is actually missing in terms of stuff he would use. That is to say, what he is looking for is the look of the future. Whenever he asks, "Does it have X, Y and Z items?", the answer is usually, "Yes. That stuff is pretty basic."

Ray Likes
Aliens (Non-Humanoid), Nanotechnology and Virtual Reality

Ray's choices strike me as interesting as they are perhaps the most 'Science Fictiony' of the all those the players have mentioned but also the elements least often specifically encountered in traditional Traveller.

While non-humanoid aliens exist in the Traveller canon and are even fairly important to the setting (the Hiver and K'Kree most notably), Nanotech and Virtual Reality play little part in the rules or setting unless added in by the enterprising GM. This is one of the few times I think Traveller feels dated, when some factor seen all over the place in modern Science Fiction wasn't considered a major deal when earlier additions of Traveller were written.

Ray notes that his interest in Virtual Reality stems from the Star Trek: The Next Generation holodeck episodes as well as the uses and abuses of it in various Cyberpunk settings.

Marcus Likes
Aliens (Humanoid), Armor and Weapons

Marcus is a combat junkie. His RPG roots are strictly D&D and his major Sci-Fi game exposure comes from computer games like Mass Effect and Halo. Bottom line, Marcus wants high tech tools for the purpose of beating people up.

But he's no mere cave man in a space suit. You see, Marcus has feelings too.

Marcus explains that he prefers human-like and humanoid extraterrestrials so that he can interact with them. An elephant-sized, jellyfish like gas bag living in the atmospheric soup of Saturn is interesting but how does he deal with it? At least to Marcus' thinking, "It doesn't want what I want or need what I need. I can't help it, compete with it, date it or anything so, yeah it's cool to think about but in the end, who cares."

Ray, Dave and I are of a very different view point but I can totally understand where Marcus is coming from in a game setting. Gave me something to think about.

Lee Likes
A cast of thousands, Hard Science meets weirdness and Untamed/uncategorized space

Yes, Lee was unable to use one word to explain what he likes. This is a
thing with Lee. It's also interesting to note that all the things he mentions are, for me, part and parcel when running Sci-Fi. They are a given. So, the one guy who doesn't feel like joining in the fun is the guy who would probably enjoy the game the most. Not surprising. *Sigh*

Barking Alien


  1. Nonhumna doesn't always mean you can't interact with them. I can imagine lots of aliens that live in earthlike environments.

    Then again, I like David Brin's Uplift series...

  2. Oh I agree and I have run adventures where PCs interacted with aliens who Don't live in Earth-like environments. I am simply noting this player's personal preference and that fact that I can see it from his point of view even if it's not my point of view.

  3. i would like to see someone play a plant based/ gas based life form or some other non shaped alien that is unlike most scifi... Our conceptual idea of aliens are based on human/earthlike symmetry. most aliens are always bipedal has two arms and lives off on O2 but if i were to play(if invited) i would go for the more nontraditional alien....most scifi alien concepts follow our own dimensions, our own earthly concepts..image the quality of alien one can created when we dismiss our(human) symmetry.

  4. Love this blog, and website :) 2 of my favorites :)