Last night I hopped online for a very productive video chat with +Scott Templeman, a long time friend and fellow gamer.
We've been chewing around some ideas for a cool SF setting, dubbed "Serene Dawn", for some months now. Our chat was all about how we are going to make it a reality.
To be honest, the name comes from a starship that was created for playing in a Traveller game set along the Solomani Rim, sometime around two years ago. The campaign I wanted to play never got launched so the name was shelved. Still, it kept nagging at me.
Last year, as I was fiddling around with the idea of creating my own RPG system, I began to chat online with two old friends - one of whom was Scott - and we concocted a plan to create an SF setting that was interesting.
Things were ticking over fine, given the heavy schedules of everyone involved, until around 8 weeks ago when we came to an abrupt all-stop. In short, people simply weren't around.
Serene Dawn began as a near-future SF setting with a couple of interesting hooks. Firstly, the expansion of humanity was just about to be made possible by the invention of a slightly different style of Jump Gate; secondly, we decided that we wanted to increase the balkanisation of Earth through the continuation of current political trends towards micro-nations. Nothing overly exciting, but a start.
Interestingly, when we began to plot a first game, we ended up setting things off-world on Phobos. In my previous article, Phobian Nights
, I mentioned some of the details we came up with. By now, however, the setting had evolved towards science-fantasy and was becoming... odd.
We also involved my home gaming group in a failed attempt to create a campaign in the setting using T5, getting as far as rolling up heroes. To be honest, in retrospect, I'm glad that tanked in favour of the current fantasy campaign we're playing.
Last night we had a frank chat about what we wanted to play. The consensus fell upon creating the first of a series of "modules" in the setting, initially focused on what interests both Scott and I: the exploration game.
Oddly, having spent the evening tossing around thoughts and ideas, I came away with the sense that not only did I want to develop the setting but that I wanted to custom-build the game engine to run it. As regular readers will be aware, I have been abortively developing the Beta RPG over the past couple of months... but that project had stalled because something wasn't quite right.
Over night, however, I dreamt the solution. Arising early this morning I typed up the beginnings of a new RPG system which blends elements from several places all into one reasonably light set of rules. With that thrumming in my head, I have found myself suddenly unblocked and imagining things in the Serene Dawn setting too.
It seems odd, perhaps... but, at least for me, the system is important to get out of the way before I create. I need to feel that the game I am writing is doable with the tools I have to hand.
With the new game engine (dubbed the "UbiquitousRPG") in draft format, I have been able to turn my mind to the requests that co-creator +Scott Templeman
has asked me for: Bruxx and Conveyors.
Bruxx are a genetically-engineered collection of rat-derived sentients that we postulated late last year. The idea seems to have really bitten Scott as he raised it as the No 1 thing he wanted me to develop. His argument is that, whether the whole setting works or not, this species is the kind of element that you can develop and slot into almost any other SF setting. And he reckons they are interesting too.
Conveyors came out of the discussions about the Jump Gates in the setting. In short, we have some very large starships which can leap to other star systems via the assistance of a Jump Gate. These large craft are called Conveyors because they tote either cargo or smaller, non-FTL capable ships from system to system. Imagine a kind of regular transport liner which jumps from system to system, picking up cargo and dropping off deliveries at each waypoint, and you've kind of got the idea. What makes them cool, though, is that they are controlled by one faction and used at the forefront of exploration too.
The suggestion is that we develop these elements of the setting, alongside some details on exploratory proving teams, to provide an introductory "module" ready to play. Ever ready to run an interesting new campaign, I'm up for that!
Why tell you this?
Well, partially because I'm excited about developing something new... but mostly because we also realised that this project is about something more than "just a cool new game idea".
Scott and I really want to put our heads together and create something that "gives back" to the hobby we have played and loved for many years. Feeling like a kind of movie critic for RPGs, we both feel that we'd like to experience the joy and pain of trying to create something to share with other gamers.
It was a dear friend in 2004, while we were at Origins in Columbus, Ohio, who suggested that I ought to develop my own RPG system. He was right... but I've not been able to do it yet, despite at least six attempts. Along the way I have been told by several players and gaming friends that they have been surprised that I have not published a thing for the hobby, despite my foaming addiction for roleplaying. I guess, talking to Scott last night, that I realised just how much I really want to have a crack at this thing.
So... why tell you? Because I need support and encouragement. I need editors, illustrators, map-makers, layout artists, critics and supporters... but most of all, I need to know that someone might think it's not such a stupid idea either. And I need some players.
This is the project to try something else that's new for me too: online tabletop roleplaying. I've got an account with Roll20
but I've never used it. Now's the time.
Are you an avid roleplayer who fancies coming to play in the SF setting we're putting together? Fancy coming along with us to discover how the first exploration mission might pan out? If so, drop me a note or a comment and let me know. I'll be happy to try to include you in our first games.
Serene Dawn is born. Game on!
Labels: rules, Serene Dawn, settings, SF, UbiRPG