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What do you like in a science fiction setting?


Herolover

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Okay bare with me here.

 

I have a group that is...well...let us just say that they aren't to excited about playing a science fiction campaign. I on the other hand would love to GM a good sci-fi campaign my problem is that I don't know what campaign to use. The system should be obvious.

 

No, I have Star Hero and Terran Empire. I haven't decided if I want to use Terran Empire or not, but I am thinking about it. So here I am planning to start a sci-fi campaign and looking for a setting when I thought this would be a good question for the HERO boards.

 

What do you like in a science fiction setting? What do you look for as a player? What do you look for as a GM? What things do you like and what things do you dislike? In creating your own settings what do you include?

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Don't get hung up on trying to make your science too 'hard' (i.e. real-world plausible). You'll spend too much time arguing modern science theory. (Ever spent any amount of time on a Traveller message board? Sheesh!) On the other hand, keep what science you do use internally consistent. On the gripping hand, it's all about the story anyway.

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Guest Celt

If your players are making noises like they would rather pass on a scifi campaign I wouldn't recommend trying to force it on them. If you're bound on running it what you probably want to do is sit down with all the players and see what kind of setting they want to play in and you'd be willing to run. Their input can inspire your own imagination.

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I agree about keeping your science internally consistent. More than any other genre, sci-fi requires you to have a good solid understanding of your world and its mechanics.

 

As for cool things I like:

 

Hard science (or at least science that feels hard, like Larry Niven's)

 

Really alien aliens. (no glueing a rubber frog to your head, painting it flesh tone and choosing a racial phycological quirk)

 

Political intrigue

 

Wondrous artifacts and phenomena (black holes, alien derelicts, strange but plausible planets)

 

Timelines with lots of plot hooks

 

 

Things I dislike:

 

Cyberspace (what a way to run a network)

 

Mixing magic with sci-fi (fine line to tread with psionics)

 

Traveller-esque character generation (Why are all starting characters retired, or already dead?)

 

Check out my Solar Colonies link below if you can find anything useful on it.

 

Keith "No rubber frogs" Curtis

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What do I like in a Sci Fi setting?

It really depends on my mood. I think I enjoy a frontier effect to some degree."Untamed Space" as it were. I enjoy alien rich settings... and prefer the mood or feel to be hopeful/optimistic as opposed to 'gritty/souless'. Though I did enjoy some Cyberpunk games more than once.

 

Timetravel can be fun, but I'm the only one who can tolerate it in my group :) I think Space Exploration is probably the way to go for my group IF I can ever get them on Sci Fi at all. I'm not pushing though, they'd just kick in their heels if I did.

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What do I like in a Sci Fi setting?

Horror, hehe.

No, really, I think it depends on the players. For me, 'Sci Fi' is nothing more than a backdrop for the style of campaign I will run. My group likes mystery and horror and are a bit tired of the 'you are the center of the universe' where all too many games go.

That is why my campaign is a commando mission + horror undertone in a realistic tone. The players know that admist all the sci fi gadgets there is unknown evil out there in space. Coupled with realizing that I will kill players not only removed the 'heroes of the universe' complex, but makes encounters exciting since they are not assured to come out on top.

 

Overall, determine what they would *not* like; what have they over experienced in Sci Fi games or other games and use that to think about what would be new and appealing.

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Here's my own personal list:

 

1. Really interesting alien cultures. I don't care if they look like a Human with a flesh-colored frog's head (to use the temptation that Keith just dangled in front of my nose), but make the cultures interesting and well fleshed out. This is one area where, say what you want about lackluster plots (and I'd probably agree with you), Enterprise has outstripped its Star Trek predecessors -- the cultures of other worlds are much more than the traditional one-note people. Even at that, they stick with the cardinal rule of alien cultures: don't dwell on them. At most, focus on just one aspect for the sake of a given story, giving the rest of the details just so the culture doesn't look like some Earth culture with a few knobs twisted around and the serial numbers filed off. Start with your interesting feature, consider why that feature exists, and then consider what other features would be produced by the same cause.

 

2. The right kinds of toys. Technology in a science fiction setting serves one of three functions -- enabling device, setting color, or logical extrapolation. Starships, for instance, enable characters to travel from world to world; energy weapons make the setting distinctive from modern day (though I can think of at least one or two decent sci-fi settings that still use bullets). When Gene Roddenberry decided to use the Transporters in Star Trek, it was because he wanted an easy way to get characters from the ship to the surface.

 

3. Internal consistency. This has already been mentioned, but it bears repeating. Decide how much "dramatic license" you're going to be using in any given area (science, action, whatever) and stick to that. If the science is extrapolated from modern-day technology, then don't introduce some commonplace "rubber science." On the other hand, if you have lots of "rubber science," don't suddenly become a stickler for real science.

 

4. A clear direction. Give the PCs an overall mission, a manifest, a duty assignment, or something that tells them what they're supposed to be doing. Are they patroling the border for pirates and invaders? Are they running around a troubled sector putting down rebels? Are they trying to overthrow the evil Empire? Are they investigating homicides on a thriving colony world? Are they shipping goods along a dangerous interplanetary trade route? Put this aspect of the game together as though you were developing a TV series.

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Hi Herolover,

 

My only suggestion is to ask your players what would make them excited about a sci-fi game. Maybe give them some ideas...ask about military games, intrigue, space pirates, explorers, etc. See what happens. Might help you both drum up interest and it will make your players feel involved... ;)

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I just started a HERO campaign. I wanted to run a post-apocalyptic campaign, but I just convinced my group to make the switch from 3E, but I still had a hard sell convincing them to give up fantasy. So, if you're players like fantasy, remind them that the flavor is very similar.

 

1.) Magic can easily become psionics.

 

2.) Zombies and skeletons quickly become droids, and orcs quickly become mutants.

 

3.) Thanks to the bomb and the sparseness of tech, melee weapons are back in style.

 

4.) Armor of Strength quickly becomes cyberware, etc.

 

They were sold with a little convincing. Might want to remind them how flavor bleeds between genres.

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