Ahhhh…. back in the saddle. GMing again. I took a break to let others have a turn in the big chair, but the reigns have finally come back around to me. I guess now would be the time for me to put my money where my mouth is concerning all the GMing advice I’ve been babbling about here. Right?It’s not easy though, especially after so much internal anticipation, to keep the ideas that have been floating around my skull in reserve where they belong. My Players are still building their PCs (most of the numbers are done, the back stories outlined, the personalities are currently simmering) and if I start trying to direct them at this point they may decide to go along with what I’ve come up with instead of planning for themselves. But where’s the fun in that? Man, so difficult to keep my stupid over active imagination in check. So what am I doing now? Right now I have a basic understanding of my PCs and what portions of my universe they have made motions toward claiming for their own. I’ve listened to them and tried to add some dust to their atmosphere in the hopes that clouds will form. So far I’m very happy with what I’ve gotten from them. (Yes, I know that at least two of them read this blog so nothing secret is going to get spilled here even if there were secrets at this point, which there really aren’t.) The system is TSR’s failed attempt at a science fiction game, Alternity. I never run in the basic world provided by the books for any system so I’ve modified the world somewhat. Mostly I feel that I’ve opened things way up. First my universe is so chock full of aliens that my Players are allowed to play one of the five base races in the book or use the “Mutants” rules in the back of the book to build their own aliens. So lots of aliens and I’m going mostly the Star Trek/Star Wars road with them. Sentient (playable) races are all generally humanoid, generally able to communicate with each other, generally about the same size for the sake of all being on the same ship together. Sci-fi is a broad term so I’ve narrowed the technology level of my universe thusly. Alternity uses Progress Levels 1-10 where PL:5 is Modern Day; cell phones, computers, cars, planes, internet, assault rifles, body armor, etc. Non-FTL sleeper ships are PL:6. Short hop “star drive” hyperspace-style FTL ships are PL:7 and that’s about where I’m setting things. FTL ships are commonplace, but large and typically owned by corporations, governments, and organizations like trains and large planes are today. Only very wealthy or very determined individuals own their own FTL ships and they are rare. Moving between systems is accomplished by booking passage for yourself or for your non-FTL ship within a large FTL capable vessel that makes long FTL circuits along a route of systems like a bus. The only exception to this type of travel are the rings (blatantly stolen from Stargate). These are big rings (50km diameter) left orbiting certain stars by some long gone very advanced civilization. They can be used to move instantly from one ring to any other ring you have the numeric code for and the ring systems all coordinate a schedule of connections to keep trade flowing. To operate a ring you have to have the specific code for an individual ring you want to get to and random dialing doesn’t work or at least hasn’t worked so far. There are only 20 rings currently known about. Wars are fought over control of the rings and they represent an immense source of trade revenue for the system they are in. As such every system with a ring has become a hub of population with just about every planet, moon, and asteroid having some kind of settlement on it. No ring system has yet been willing to risk breaking theirs just to try and take it apart to see how it works and no already broken or dismantled rings have been found. Everyone thinks it would be a good idea to see if by cutting open the golden goose they could find the magic of the golden eggs, but no one wants it to be their goose that gets the knife. Anyway, these are (at the moment) far from the PCs who will be starting in systems that range between backwater (PL:6) to modern (PL:7) and are not ring systems. I think that it is important to have your PCs be allowed to rise to “mover’n’shaker” status should they so desire. Starting one’s game at the hub of your particular universe then requires that you either boost your PCs’ power levels way beyond starting character or doom them to always being at the whim of some more powerful NPC. Extra lame with a side of lame. I don’t like either of these options so we’re starting out a bit from this universe’s “hot spots” as it were. That being the case, all this talk of rings just flavor text for now that I’m tossing in because it struck me as interesting. Across the universe there exist thousands of alien races and just about every form of government you can imagine. This choice was intentional to keep things open and pliable for the PCs. Just about any sci-fi scenario is available in some form for them to latch on to. At the moment I have three PCs and they are a medical doctor, a professional psychic, and a pilot/ship tech. Each of them has chosen to build their own races with unique histories, customs, and everything. Now it is my job to start trying to figure out who their PCs are, how they could possibly meet up and what kind of story they are going to be most interested in following after. Next week! First actual role-playing session of the game! I’m excited. Can you tell?
The Power! The Mind Numbing Power!!