Since I very much have Science Fiction on the brain lately and plan to turn that preoccupation toward a new campaign in 2013, I thought I would take a moment and indulge myself by listing the Top Ten Things I Want In My Next Science Fiction Game (Inspired by this post by long time ally in the fight for SF gaming, Jay of EXONAUTS!).
#1. A Bunch of Aliens
I want aliens. As PCs, NPCs, allies, enemies and inexplicible god-like entities beyond our understanding. I want a good amount. Almost alot. Not too many. Dune has too few. Star Wars too many. I liked the Original Series and Movie Era Star Trek periods when there were a a few dozen of varying types and levels of advancement spread across a wide area. Post Next Gen the galaxy is too crowded with uninteresting aliens.
#2. Starships With Flavor
Different kinds. Not just different classes and types (but that too), I want vessels of different governments and alien species to have distinct appearances, design aesthetics and special features. Babylon 5 didn't always have the most awesome starship designs ever (though many were pretty neat) but it often looked like one concept artist design some of them while a completely different concept artist came up with others.
#3. Weird Planets That Are Plausible
Planets that make you go, "WTF Science?!" Remember when we were kids and our science teachers and science books said, "That planet you read about in that Science Fiction book is fun to think about but in reality we'll never find a planet completely covered in water." BAM! Suck it high school science teachers and your lack of vision.
#4. A Lot Of Travel
My love/obsession with different environments and locale settings means I want the situations and the PCs to move around a lot. A different world every week! OK, maybe every few sessions. It depends on which game I go with and how the Players perceive that universe.
#5. A Homebase To Go Back To
As much as I want to see the characters travel from world to world, I want them to have a central location to go back to in order to access what happened and what to do next. This could be a starship, a space station, one planet in particular or whatever. The point is there will be a familiar safehouse or port of call (port in a storm) from which to set out into the unknown.
#6. An Enemy of Grandeur
I want a bad guy, a villain, an antagonist, who is not a species but also not a single person. That is, I don't want Klingons (or only Klingons) but I don't want Khan either. I am thinking criminal or terrorist organization. A space version of Cobra or Hydra. Big, wide spread but still finite.
#7. People Matter More Than Tech
I've got some gearhead players but what I really have it guys who want the advantage Sci-Fi tech gives you to not have to walk over and check things out for yourself. They also like the idea of killing things from far away where things can't reach and kill them.
I like it when either the tech doesn't help the PC as much as the Player's innovative use of it does or when the enemy's got the same tech they do.
Player skill over PC equipment is what I am looking for.
#8. A Big Plot...or Three
I intend the game to seem Sandbox-y but there will definitely be an overarching story, perhaps several. I plan on placing the story elements out there in the Sandbox of Space and if the PCs come across one or more pieces they may or may not get involved. The plot however will continue to develop with or without their interference and may end up a nusiance to them somewhere down the road.
#9. A Mystery As Large As Space
I may not be able to pull this one off but not for any lack of ability on my part. Rather, I may not have any Players or PCs as into checking out the mysterious and unexplained as I am into including it. I will put in a handful of 'Secrets of the Universe' and see if anyone bites and wants to know more. Otherwise, I won't push. It'll just be there for me.
#10. Massive, World(s)-Shattering Explosions
I haven't blown up an entire planet in forever. Now where did I leave that Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator?
Oh yeah, almost forgot...there's this.