Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Iconic" Sci Fi game ideas

I've been reading about the work of Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo on '13th Age' and I'm really taken by the Icon idea they have incorporated in the game. So being a sci-fi aficionado I could not help but start thinking about the same type of 'Iconic' setting for sci fi.

For example Imperial Storm troops

and the list goes on
  • Prison Planet
  • Beanstalk 
  • Megacorp council 
  • Street Gangs 
  • Imperial Destroyer
  • Research Installation Alpha 
  • Jump Gates
  • Malevolent AI
  • Sector Governor
  • Underworld Boss
  • The Resistance
I could go on but you get the idea. There really is a set of 'tropes' which epitomize sci-fi. This also probably means this 'setting' is slightly more 'space opera' then 'hard' but that is not necessarily a bad thing. 'Newtons Wake' is subtitled as 'a space opera' for example.  

However the point of such a design artifice, is to make for a very accessible sci-fi setting. All too often sci-fi milieu are nigh inaccessible due to the voluminous nature of the material. For gaming I think it is a bad thing to have too much background. I also think that only a few of us really read the game background maybe a third of the market really reads the background. I have nothing to back up this claim players I've GM'd and often they dont bother to open the books of the game. The icons approach shows there are 'Archetypes' we can access, which imply or cast the sci-fi setting in much the same way as the Iconic high fantasy setting.

Yes you still need to make this linked intrinsically to "the character" so the PC needs hooks which draw on these elements easily.

This is in no way revolutionary, I think most pastiche settings do this in an unknown or unplanned way.   Again its not linked to character and its not done in a 'just-in-time' 'Lean' manner to minimize the amount of  background and to deliberately use the collective recognition of archetypes to power the game.

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