John Kahane (jkahane) wrote,
John Kahane

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What to Run as an SF RPG...

As I mentioned in yesterday's journal entry, I've got something of a quandry on my hands in terms of which science fiction roleplaying game to run. (And yes, I meant to write this entry yesterday, but time just was not on my side.)

As mentioned, I haven't done a lot of science fiction rpg gaming in quite a while (close to a year, if I'm not mistaken), and I've missed that genre of gaming somewhat. While I've been planning to run the Thousand Suns rpg from Rogue Games, part of me doesn't like the idea of using a meta-setting to run the game and then have to create the universe that I want from scratch. I did this back in the day with both the DragonQuest and Universe fantasy and sf rpgs respectively, and some 35 years on have no real desire to do that again. I'm feeling my age these days, and have no desire to start creating an sf universe from scratch or even from the pov of beginning with a meta-setting and filling in a lot of detail. I've already got that to do for my Shadow, Sword & Spell game (and I'm not complaining about this), and building a world is not the same as building a universe and a whole timeline and solar system of planets and the like. Add to this the fact that several of my players don't want to play in a sf setting that is based on older styles of science fiction and all, and well... Thousand Suns seems to be out for me.

And then there's the other game... As noted in yesterday's post, I received my magnificent huge paper map of the universe for the Hellas: Worlds of Sun and Stone roleplaying game arrived in the snail mail on Friday, and it looks fabulous. I've been motivated to run Hellas of late, not just because I want to get back to science fiction gaming, but because it offers me a lot of detail on the universe in which the game is set. The Greek setting of Hellas is...different, and it means that I am forced to get away from the various old scenarios that I might have tried to run in the game, as well as the fact that it gives me an already created universe with some neat stuff in it, and a good deal of inpsiration in the old Greek myths and tragedies. Sure, Hellas doesn't have a hard science element to it, per sé, but offers a lot of opportunities for excellent roleplaying and universe changing events.

One of the things that appeals to me about both systems is Character Creation. While Thousand Suns uses an older model along the lines of Traveller to create characters using a simplified lifepath system and assigning set points to Skills in a series of career choices, Hellas uses a more complicated lifepath system that I have illustrated with a sample of character creation that I absolutely adore, especially now that there are lifepaths for each of the primary playable alien races in the game (when the Princes of the Universe supplement comes out). The two character creation systems offer different levels of the process, and a unique feel to the characters created, though the Thousand Suns one feels somewhat more limited as it is a bit more generic in feel to me, because of the meta-setting aspects of the game.

There are just a couple of things that really stand in my way of running Hellas. First off, the style and layout of the book is a turn-off somewhat. Unreadable text on a background that makes the eyes water and a landscape format to the book (the main Hellas book feels like a coffee table book rather than a roleplaying game) makes the game awkward for me. My eyes aren't getting any younger, know what I mean. The second obstacle was the illegibility of the map of the Hellas universe in the main rulebook, but this has been alleviated by the lovely large map that will soon be in a vinyl (!!) format as well. The map is clear, the slipspace routes are clearly delineated, and so forth.

So, as you can see from this post, I'm debating which of the two games - Thousand Suns or Hellas - I should run for my science fiction fix. While I love old 1940s through 1960s sf, I want to run something with a more modern sensibility to it, and yet Hellas, being based on the Greek stuff, has an even older feel to it in some ways than Thousand Suns. That and my lack of desire to create a universe from almost-scratch factors into this as well, so...

I'd be interested in the thoughts of others gamers about this issue. So please post a comment here and make your thoughts to me on this subject known. Thanks.
Tags: gaming hut, rpg chat, science fiction, thoughts, thousand suns

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