#RPGaDAY 2019 - DAY 5: "SPACE"
“The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses. To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake. The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.” - Douglas Adams The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
I've always been a big science fiction fan. I watched reruns of Star Trek religiously growing up, and of course, I've seen Star Wars about 50 times. I watched the Buck Rogers TV show and the weird-but-fun Flash Gordon movie. I've read classic sci-fi, and modern. I've thought about how ion drives might work, and how diving into a planet to get acceleration wouldn't work.
And yet, I've never really gotten into Space RPG's.
It's not that I don't enjoy them when I play them. Rather, it's that when I look at the universe as the GM, it seems too big for me to create a story. I remember trying to GM Traveller, back in the days of the Little Black Books. I'd be creating worlds, and they'd have populations, and in order for the story to progress, the party had to go to one specific place on a world, where everybody spoke their language.
I understand that the whole point of running a space game is to bring the scale of the universe down to the level of the players, it always seemed hard to do that in an RPG, without making it just Fantasy in Space. I could run one-offs, but I enjoy running campaigns and in a campaign, there's a lot more freedom for players to take the paths they choose, which can scale the game back up again.
I also put a fair amount of thought into my NPC's, the cities and countries they're in. What are the cultural elements, and why is this location different than the ones around it. And even if I have to adlib something, I know Trinity world well enough to be able to come up with consistent answers. But in space, the universe seems very flat, because it can contain anything...and so the places and people, who might have local and world level issues of their own, end up seeming equally flat to me.
That said, I will fully admit that this is a mental block on my part and nothing to do with the genre. If I availed myself of the newest games, I know that there would be a plethora of material to help me create the stories I want to, and help make each place unique in the context of some overarching story or setting. And the people who do run them do a wonderful job. I've enjoyed a new Traveller game, and Space Infantry by Lock n' Load Publishing. And I really want to try Starfinder, since I understand it's both good and very approachable.
But until I do avail myself, it remains the one major genre that I've just never gotten my head around as a GM.