Saturday, 24 April 2010

Designing my Sci-Fi game

And that's 'Sci-Fi'. Not 'SyFy'. How ridiculous.

Anyway, now that 'Traveller' is going to be my next campaign after 'Dragon Warriors' finishes (and we're rapidly approaching the conclusion of that campaign), I'm starting to wonder what kind of game I want to run. Light, bright and intellectual like '2001: A Space Odyssey', down-to-earth and grungy like 'Silent Running' or 'Moon', or dark and dangerous like 'Alien' or 'Dead Space'?

I guess I'll design something generic and make my mind up closer to the campaign, but right now I'm thinking of something dark and dangerous, not so much for the horror but just the aesthetic.

Do any of you have any success with any other kind of sci-fi look and design? Feel free to leave me some suggestions in the comments.


  1. Sounds a bit lower tech for Traveller, more TL12 or under.

    Traveller can definitely handle this as the best combat advice is ambush with superior advantage else run. When in doubt, RUN! :) The economic system is designed to force the PCs to seek alternative means to fiance themselves and pay their ship bills. In other words, to spur adventure.

    Very much fits Cowboy Bebop and Firefly too. E.C. Tubb's Dumarest of Terra series was a major influence from the scattered wildly varying worlds of mostly single planet poilties to fast/slow and low berths and more. Just don't read too many of his books at once esp. in the middle part of the series or the pattern really shows.

  2. You may want to check out Reign of Discordia, recently re-released for MGT. It's a bit more open yet smaller, somewhat like a harder edged Star Frontiers.

    One potential problem is Traveller introduces viable cheap grav tech rather early in the tech levels. It would quickly supercede a lot else and lead to Star Trek / Star Wars prequel zooming about in grav vehicles. So you may want to tweak that.

    Cowboy Bebop "Four" promo
    Adult Swim Promo - Cowboy Bebop "Good Promo #3"
    Movie Trailer

    for a bright 2001 meets Moebius future, Capsule has quite a few videos along that vein, such as "Space Station no. 9"

    and you can have both bright and dark (shadows?) in your lethal future. That's one thing Firefly tried, certainly not the first. I'm currently reading some Alastair Reynolds and much of it reads like an updated Arthur C. Clarke while having its share of mystery, intrigue and grayness.
    Electro World
    Linear Motor Girl
    and much much more (they're one of the more popular pop groups there with lots of videos but those are the two most directly sci-fi)

  3. Ghoul, a sever ypu're well of resource and you've given me plenty of good ideas, there. Alastair Reynolds is a good shout, I've got some of his stuff and enjoy it immensley. I was trying to get some inspiration from Iain M. Banks and Simmons, as well, but I'm looking for a visual cue more than anything hence the movie and game nods. If the players can see what it I'm trying to convey then that's half the battle.

    I've been reading a graphic novel called 'Orbital' which is chock full of great ideas and designs. I can highly recommend that to you -