athelind: (Sci Fi)
The Threepenny Space Opera: An Introduction

WARNING! TV TROPES!

This is the first in a series of posts under the head of The Threepenny Space Opera, in which Your Obedient Serpent bandies about ideas and concepts for science fiction RPG settings. These are primarily Notes To Myself, and the different concepts may or may not be compatible with each other in a single milieu.

I have been in a Star Wars Saga Edition game for the last four years, and, while I enjoy it a great deal, I confess that I enjoy it in spite of the setting, not because of it. It is hardly an original insight to assert that the Lucasian setting isn't "really" science fiction, but rather, fantasy with a thin veneer of technology; it has some truth to it, but that doesn't curtail my ability to enjoy a rip-roaring laser-adorned Hero's Journey.

If forced to pick a side when the line is drawn between Romanticism and Enlightenment, however, Your Obedient Serpent falls squarely in the latter camp.1 There are elements of Classic Space Opera that are Very Important To Your Obedient Serpent, and they can only be shoehorned into the Galaxy Far Far Away with great effort -- and are entirely absent from, say, Dark Heresy and many of the other starfaring settings offered to the RPG community.

I am rambling, which is nothing new. Let me therefore invoke that tool of PowerPoint abusers worldwide, and proffer a Bullet List:

  • I want a vision of a hopeful, optimistic future. Cautionary tales are an important part of the science fiction estate, but they aren't, contrary to Post-Modern thought, more "mature" or "sophisticated" or "valid". When all the visions of the future are dystopian, when the only message from tomorrow is "Beware", then where will we find the hope and inspiration to drive us forward?

  • I want to Explore Strange New Worlds. Even Star Trek: the Next Generation fell short on this one, keeping NCC-1701-D largely within the borders of the Federation, boldly staying where everyone had gone before; the movies, of course, abandon the notion of "exploration" entirely.

  • I want to Save the Day with SCIENCE!! I want a setting and a system where the Vulcan manning the sensors contributes as much to the adventure as the Dashing Space Pilot.

  • And on that note, I want a game that doesn't shy away from starships and space combat, while making sure that ALL the player characters can take active roles when the Space Pirates drop out of Netherspace, or the Negative Space Wedgie looms on the main screen. I want a game that's not afraid of starmaps, and where travel between the worlds is an opportunity, not an obstacle (or a quick screen-wipe).


There will be more forthcoming.


1 In the topsy-turvy backwards world of Literary Jargon, I am an unrealistic dreamer because I reject Romanticism.

athelind: (weird science)
[livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty huhs. "That's weird. I can receive Roadrunner mail, but not send it.
[livejournal.com profile] pyat prefers Blade Runner mail!
[livejournal.com profile] leonard_arlotte says, "I've read things that you wouldn't believe. Free Diplomas burning off the shoulder of Orion. Enlarged penises glittering by the Tannhäuser Gate. All this will be lost, like spam in the rain."


Please credit [livejournal.com profile] leonard_arlotte for this. He deserves all the blame credit.

athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty huhs. "That's weird. I can receive Roadrunner mail, but not send it.
[livejournal.com profile] pyat prefers Blade Runner mail!
[livejournal.com profile] leonard_arlotte says, "I've read things that you wouldn't believe. Free Diplomas burning off the shoulder of Orion. Enlarged penises glittering by the Tannhäuser Gate. All this will be lost, like spam in the rain."


Please credit [livejournal.com profile] leonard_arlotte for this. He deserves all the blame credit.

athelind: (ironclaw)
It has come to my attention that many D&D players spend a great deal of time, energy and effort complaining about core concepts in the system: Alignment, Class, Level, the Magic System, incompatibility between optional rules sets, and even things that exist at the setting level rather than the mechanical level, such as the perponderance of monsters that make no damned sense. Rather than just discarding or modifying those aspects of the game to tailor it more to their preferences, they instead apply torturous rationalizations to make sense of inherently arbitrary, irrational rules.

If the objections and rationalizations were isolated, one could justify simply "gaming around them"; however, at some point or another, the same people have brought every core concept of the game into question -- and yet, far too often, the questioners resist both the idea of actively changing the rules (which the OGL/d20 revolution has made more feasible than ever) or finding another system less heavily burdened with the ill-conceived baggage of '70s Miniatures Wargaming (which the OGL/d20 revolution has not yet managed to make impossible).

Granted, this has always been The Nature of the Beast. however, since the introduction of Third Edition and the "d20 Revolution", it often seems as though the players of that system simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of other game systems in any but the most offhand and academic manner ("Yeah, but nobody plays that").

Many D&D players also have a tendency to approach any discussion of game design in terms of whether or not it would work in D&D. Frequently, one person will bring up some aspect of mythology or folklore -- folk magics, for example, or the role of consecrated ritual tools in magickal practice -- and note that few existing game systems incorporate these ideas in their mechanics. Far too often, a D&D player will dismiss the question by saying something that boils down to "There's really no way to explain that in D&D terms."

This tendency to shoehorn every circumstance into an arbitrary and inappropriate frame of reference while at the same time discounting the validity of other frames of reference strikes me as being unwholesomely... Republican.


EDIT: I do apologize for this popping up again in everyone's Friends list. Semagic did something weird and reposted it, over-writing the time stamp on the original.
athelind: (Default)
It has come to my attention that many D&D players spend a great deal of time, energy and effort complaining about core concepts in the system: Alignment, Class, Level, the Magic System, incompatibility between optional rules sets, and even things that exist at the setting level rather than the mechanical level, such as the perponderance of monsters that make no damned sense. Rather than just discarding or modifying those aspects of the game to tailor it more to their preferences, they instead apply torturous rationalizations to make sense of inherently arbitrary, irrational rules.

If the objections and rationalizations were isolated, one could justify simply "gaming around them"; however, at some point or another, the same people have brought every core concept of the game into question -- and yet, far too often, the questioners resist both the idea of actively changing the rules (which the OGL/d20 revolution has made more feasible than ever) or finding another system less heavily burdened with the ill-conceived baggage of '70s Miniatures Wargaming (which the OGL/d20 revolution has not yet managed to make impossible).

Granted, this has always been The Nature of the Beast. however, since the introduction of Third Edition and the "d20 Revolution", it often seems as though the players of that system simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of other game systems in any but the most offhand and academic manner ("Yeah, but nobody plays that").

Many D&D players also have a tendency to approach any discussion of game design in terms of whether or not it would work in D&D. Frequently, one person will bring up some aspect of mythology or folklore -- folk magics, for example, or the role of consecrated ritual tools in magickal practice -- and note that few existing game systems incorporate these ideas in their mechanics. Far too often, a D&D player will dismiss the question by saying something that boils down to "There's really no way to explain that in D&D terms."

This tendency to shoehorn every circumstance into an arbitrary and inappropriate frame of reference while at the same time discounting the validity of other frames of reference strikes me as being unwholesomely... Republican.


EDIT: I do apologize for this popping up again in everyone's Friends list. Semagic did something weird and reposted it, over-writing the time stamp on the original.

November 2016

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