Friday, February 19, 2010

Brainstorming: Star Wars without Star Wars

I finished my first playthrough of Mass Effect 2 the other night.  If you haven't checked it out, do so.  It's among one of the best CRPG's I've ever played.  Hell, it's one of the best video games I've ever played.  Period.  It's just simply brilliant.  It got me thinking about wanting to play a sci-fi game.  For those that haven't tried it out, the Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition is a spectactular system.  Not only is it a great Star Wars system, but it's also my favorite D20 system game as well.  Even though I love Star Wars and I love playing in the setting since I think it's a great place for games of a space opera/sci-fantasy bent, I've been wanting to play something that's not really tied to the Star Wars universe.  I still want the Force.  I still want some of the species.  I still want the feel.  I just don't want the baggage of it being a "long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" because my players know what to expect.  There are certain pre-conceived notions that come with playing Star Wars based on the era the game is taking place in.  Even though there is enough leeway to be able to run any number of adventures in any era, players still come in knowing more about the setting than I've come to want them to know.  Plus, by using the Saga system there's every little I'd have to add to the game mechanically to get the proper feel I'm looking for. 
I've been batting around some ideas in my head, but haven't written anything down (until now).  I want to craft my own setting that still feels like Star Wars, but doesn't have all the Jedi/Sith stuff; travelling across the galaxy isn't as easy as simply having a hyperdrive; and never has there ever been a Jar-Jar Binks.  The Force is easily handled as psionics.  However, I don't want the distinctly Light vs Dark spilt that is a given in the SW universe.  There is simply this source of power, and while some may be more inherently good or evil the true distinction is how they are used by the individual.  I haven't decided how I will handle the Force powers that deal with specific lightsaber training.  There almost needs to be an order like the Jedi that is devoted to using the Force to weild a lightsaber to block blaster bolts, but I don't want anything as strict as the Jedi Order.  I want the Force/psionics to be looked upon as being feared and dangerous.  Those that weild this power are looked up with fear in most cases.  I just haven't figured out how to do it yet. 
As far as space travel goes, I think I'm going to go with something akin to Mass Effect Relays.  These will allow nearly instantaneous travel to other relays in the galaxy, and possibly beyond, but while there are many of them found in the galaxy, and like many more yet to be found, there is still vast areas of the galaxy that can take long periods of time to get to.  However, Mass Effect Drives allow travel faster than the speed of light, but they are nowhere close to instantaneous.  Travel from a system that is home to a Relay to a nearby system using a Mass Effect drive can take days or even a month or more.  The Star Wars universe has always hand-waved the travel requirements in lieu of telling a great pulpy story.  However, it's made the SW setting feel much smaller than I've come to like for a somewhat "harder" sci-fi setting. 
As far as species go, I'll likely use the massive tome of species I mentioned in an earlier post.  However, I'll give the players a list of the major species that can easily be found throughout the galaxy.  They can still play as a really strange and rare species of creature, but if they want something that is going to be more easily found they'll have the list.  Plus, I want mutations.  There are several sources for mutations in the various D20 system games.  Those found in Darwin's World will likely fit the bill pretty well, and likely won't take too much change to fit them into the Saga system.  Beyond that, most everything else that players will need to create their character are already a part of the Saga rules from bionics to cybernetics. 
That's it for now.  Future posting will get into more of the details like organizations and threats. 


Brutorz Bill said...

My wife got me Mass Effect 2 for Valentines Day I haven't had time to really sit down and play it yet. Looking forward to seeing how your Campaign shapes up. I agree with what you are shooting towards. I'd like to play/run a Star Wars game without Star Wars. : )

Giles said...

It's a different animal than ME1. The overheating mechanic for weapons is gone in lieu of having to collect clips. There's virtually no inventory, which I ended up really liking because I could focus on the story rather than having to manage all the crap I picked up. Resource gathering can be a pain, but since I scoured the galaxy for every bit of adventure I could find, it wasn't that big of a deal. Some people didn't care for the changes, but I thought it made a stronger game overall.

As for the Star War campaign, I'm really jazzed about seeing how well I can blend familiar elements into something new. It's going to be highly derivative, but a lot of times that can make for a better game.

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