Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Evening Musings (mostly about Aliens)

I've been relaxing all day, today...meaning napping, watching TV, going for walks, humorous off-line reading...basically enjoying a lazy Sunday.  

I am a man of eclectic tastes. I was driving around yesterday evening, picking up Thai food and listening to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde on the radio, then coming home to check out the Mutant Chronicles movie on the SciFi channel to see if it was in any way true to the RPG. 

Right now, I am watching the classic film Aliens (this time on AMC), thinking about how to adapt it to Traveller.  

Is there an RPG that effectively mixes Action-Horror with Military-SciFi?  Not that I'm aware of...the Mutant Chronicles RPG tried, but eventually gave it up for a miniatures-skirmish game they now bears its name.

The thing is, its difficult to emphasize the action-horror aspect without introducing a hefty dose of mortality into the game.  But in RPGs, players are supposed to be the protagonists of the story...which means they shouldn't be dying in droves.  That's why board games like Space Hulk provide the player with multiple soldier-pieces.

[visited teardown today...still trying to work out their legal issues with THQ, dammit]

Albedo actually uses a similar approach with it's multiple PC squads (each PC has a commanding officer PC and 4-5 follower henchmen or grogs controlled by the player).  As I haven't had a chance to play it, I can't tell how the system would work in practice.  I think it sounds like a cool idea, but then I picture 3 players each controlling 15 characters and it seems like a lot to juggle.

3:16 is a cool SciFi war RPG...a razor sharp satire of WH40k warmongering (actually, more similar to the original Rogue Trade rules, which I found to be semi-satirical anyway).  But the role-playing of the game is more concerned with the larger issues of "the War" rather than the terror of war. Inspired by films like Aliens and Starship Troopers, the game itself feels more like John Steakley's book Armor in play...which is not really what I'm looking for.

What I want is something like old school D&D, truth be told...basically an on-going campaign of bug hunts from planet to planet centering missions ("adventures") on a small party of soldier-mercenaries ("adventurers").  Some may die on campaign, and be replaced by younger guys, some may retire (or get promoted).

I just can't imagine that there's enough there for an extended saga.  While there's fun to be had, there's no sense of discovery as there is in D&D. Magic items? New monsters? Traps and tricks?

Even Gamma World, with fewer "character options" then D&D has more exploration inherent in the game system...ancient ruins and sealed installations? Technological artifacts? Crazy-ass mutant monsters? Weird societies?  That's D&D, though in a "non-magical" setting.

I think that exploration component is what keeps folks coming back to certain games.  So even though I like the idea of playing a "space marine" facing near insurmountable odds with tremendous firepower, I can't see how that type of game would have lasting appeal...for myself or others.  This is always a consideration of game design.

Hope your weekend was a good one!

1 comment:

  1. There's some options for exploration I think.

    Huge abandoned industrial complex / ancient alien city / adrift space ship / tunnel riddled asteroid all need exploring

    Find the lost colonists/officer/crashed shuttle with important documents, etc.

    Find the source of the aliens

    Find and sample the Alpha Alien

    Simply search the alien city for whatever and esp technology that the corporation would want. Alien cities can be filled with traps and "magic" in a sci-fi setting.

    One way to encourage initiative and player driven exploration is not to have them as part of a hierarchy. Put them into business themselves (mercenaries or freelance archeologists w/ guns) so there is obvious rewards for risking exploration. It can still have military feel esp with mercenaries.