Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

polyhedral dice

Some of you among the three or four who read this blog (after blowing the dust off it) might recall that for several years I worked as a freelance writer in the roleplaying game industry, writing adventures and supplement books for various companies. Most of my work was for the late, lamented Hogshead Publishing, which held a license to produce product for one of my favorite roleplaying games, the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. (WFRP)

Anyway, I stopped working in that industry after one particularly bad experience (largely of my own doing, to be fair) convinced me it just wasn’t worth it anymore: lousy pay rates (a per word rate averaging three cents per word, what writers were getting in the 1930s), large word counts and short deadlines, no time for a regular life…. It had stopped being fun.

I had kept in touch with the hobby, however, by tracking a few web sites that dealt with RPGs, particularly James Maliszewski’s Grognardia, a now-moribund site dedicated to what was called the “Old School Renaissance,” a movement focused on reviving and supporting roleplaying games as they had been played in the 70s and 80s, centered mostly around D&D clones.

James had announced a cooperative project that he would edit called “Petty Gods,” a book of godlings and minor deities a referee could use in his campaign. You can read the original announcement of it here. It sounded like a fun project, and, after spending a frustrating morning looking for some mislaid keys, I came up with “Galdu Aurkitu, God of Things Mislaid and Found.”

Name: Galdu Aurkitu
Symbols: Keys on a ring. A single sock.
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180′ (60′)
Armor Class: -3
Hit Points (Hit Dice) 90 (19 HD)
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
Save: T20
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: VIII, XVII
XP: 10,000

Galdu Aurkitu is the petty god of all things mislaid and unexpectedly found. A relative of the gods of good and bad luck, Galdu Aurkitu appears in one of three forms: an elderly, forgetful man; a young woman with three walnut shells and a pea; and a helpful lad. When encountered, each represents an aspect of Galdu Aurkitu’s role: forgetting where one put something; being sure something set aside was there just a moment ago; and suddenly finding in an unexpected place something thought lost.

Galdu Aurkitu is often invoked by those looking for a mislaid object, from something as minor as the house keys to something as important as a secret treaty. He (or she) can be a capricious god. If a person annoys the god (or one of the god’s divine friends), Galdu Aurkitu will cause a needed item not to be where it was supposed to be, even though it was just put there a moment ago. The idea is not to cause harm, but to annoy and inconvenience the victim. On the other hand, Galdu Aurkitu can take pity on those who have lost something dear to them, such as the son who was sure he lost an heirloom ring, or the poor widow frantic because she can’t find the rent money. The item will be found in the least likely place to look, and it is still up to the searcher to find it. Whether causing an item to be lost or found, Galdu Aurkitu takes great pleasure in mortals’ reactions and may well be nearby, watching.

In combat, Galdu Aurkitu attacks by “mislaying” opponents’ weapons and magic items: the fighter will reach for a sword, only it’s not there – he must have left it back in camp. The wizard will reach for a scroll, only to discover it is not where it is supposed to be. In each case, the item will be in Galdu Aurkitu’s hand, who will then put it to best use. The petty god can use this power once per round.

When truly angry, Galdu Aurkitu can curse a mortal, ensuring that, for the next 24 hours, an item will be missing when most needed. This will occur once in those 24 hours. If Galdu Aurkitu particularly likes a mortal and decides to bless him or her, then something treasured and thought long-lost will be unexpectedly found and returned to them sometime in the next week, or perhaps opponents in combat will mislay a weapon or magic item. This latter blessing lasts for only 24 hours, however, and, like the curse, only happens once..

Reaction Table (roll 2d6, use INT for modifiers):

2 Friendly: Blesses 1d4 nearby targets.

3-5 Indifferent: Blesses 1d4 nearby targets if properly propitiated.

6-8 Neutral: Ignores nearby creatures.

9-11 Unfriendly: Curses 1d4 nearby targets if not properly propitiated.

12 Hostile: Curses 1d4 nearby targets.

I submitted this to James back in 2010, and then… nothing. For various reasons, the projects James had been working on, including Petty Gods, encountered near-fatal difficulties and had to be rescued by others. In fact, I had thought Petty Gods had died and had largely forgotten about it, until a few weeks ago at DriveThruRPG, where I saw this:

Petty Gods

Imagine my surprise. The PDF is free, so I downloaded it and, sure enough, there was little Galdu with his very own illustration. Apparently someone had rescued the project and it went through a few hands until the product pictured above was produced. And, judging from the PDF, the new developers did a great job.  It’s available in print-on-demand paperback at Lulu.com: I may just get myself a copy.

So, that was a long-winded way to share my amusement at still being published in the hobby-game industry. To be honest, it made me smile.

If you’re running a campaign in which minor gods could conceivably walk among mortals (as in the style of Thieves’ World or Liavek), download the free PDF and give it a look. I think you’ll enjoy it.

PS: It’s a shame James has largely withdrawn from the hobby, though I hear he still plays. Grognardia was a wonderful blog, and I’d love to see it revived.

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"King & Maxwell"

“King & Maxwell”

As a wannabe writer, I have certain pet peeves, things I would never do in my own writing and hate to see in TV shows I’m following. They’re what I call “lazy writing” and they show a lack of respect for the craft, for the performers, and the audience. One among them is putting the main character in danger of their life, maybe about to be dropped into a pool of sharks by an evil villain.

Now, think about it: this is lazy because you know they’ll never kill the star of the show. I mean, give me a break. You’re ABC and you’re paying Nathan Fillion millions to star in “Castle,” for whose character the show is named and because of whom people watch, and you want me to believe there’s a serious chance the bad guy is going to gun him down? Puh-leeze. Any writer who proposed that would be fired the moment the show runner realized he’s serious. Sure, some among the audience watch to see what clever way the writers will rescue the hero, but, without the genuine threat of harm, it’s really just a cliché way to keep to keep viewers from changing channels.

But, you know what’s worse? When writers have the characters do something mind-numbingly stupid in order to get to that “star in danger” moment.

Case in point: Monday night’s episode of King & Maxwell, the fifth in their premier season. Starring Jon Tenney as Sean King and Rebecca Romijn as Michelle Maxwell, two former Secret Service agents now working as private eyes. The first four episodes were enjoyable, albeit not stellar, but last Monday night… (spoiler warning)

Here’s the set-up. “Maxwell,” (Romijn) is captured by the killer and held at gunpoint by him in a car. Oh no! Heroine in danger! But wait! She tricks him, surprises him, beats the crap out of him! Heroine wins!! Now all she has to do is…

Get out of the car and run off into the woods, leaving him his gun? WTF??

She could have done anything: get his gun. Grab his cuffs and handcuff him. Keep beating him until he’s unconscious and then call for help. Anything… anything!… except run away and leave him his gun so he could recover and pursue her, putting her in, yes, mortal danger, setting up a last-second hackneyed rescue by her partner.

Like I said, lazy, easy-way-out writing that cheats the craft, the show, the performers, and the audience. I’d like to think Romijn felt like an idiot having to do that scene.

I almost swore off the show right there, but I like it enough to give it some more time.

But not much.

Okay, “what should they have done” is a fair question, and I’ll give you a fair answer. Instead of putting the stars in mortal jeopardy, have the killer threaten a likable supporting character who is nonetheless expendable for being minor. This is cable (TNT), so the risk of supporting character death is reasonable. Maybe it’s happened before. The point is, the audience will believe it, the heroes still face danger and risk (of failure), and then no one is treated like a sucker.

See how easy it is?

Now, King & Maxwell writers: you try it.

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Anthony/Barliman adds:

I don’t post here nearly as often as I should; I spend most of my time writing about politics and other un-fun stuff elsewhere. This blog is for more fun stuff. One resolution for 2013 (among many sure to be broken) is to post here more often about writing, TV, and the weird, odd, and amusing** things one runs across in daily life.

That should make it all the way to January 2nd.

**(And I have to say that a post about marijuana and Jeff Spicoli being the most-hit post kind of amuses me.)

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Come on. A naked spy with kinky sex preferences found stuffed into a duffel bag in his bathtub — and he worked on top-secret UK intelligence matters?

An inquest held just across the Thames from MI6’s headquarters here has brought forth details of the bizarre and lonely death in August 2010 of Gareth Williams, a 31-year-old rising star in supersecret counterterrorism work. He was found in a fetal position, arms crossed on his chest, locked inside a duffel bag resting in an unfilled bathtub at the government flat assigned to him in the upscale Pimlico district of London.

His naked body had been in the bag for a week before it was discovered, so badly decomposed that the police and pathologists have been unable to determine whether he was murdered in what his family’s lawyer has suggested to the court was a plot by others skilled in the “dark arts” of spy work.

That theory has played prominently here, with Mr. Williams depicted alternately as a victim of Russian secret service hit men, extremists with Al Qaeda, or a multitude of other potential assassins working in the murky world of espionage who poisoned him with potassium cyanide or an overdose of a powerful sedative drug, GHB, a theory pathologists said could not be effectively tested because of the advanced decomposition.

While the police and MI6 officials have refused to rule out those theories, they suggested a more likely but mundane explanation: that although the day had long passed when the agency dictated agents’ lifestyles, he was leading a doubly secret life, as a licensed MI6 field agent and as a sexual fantasist.

Naturally, in the world of British TV mysteries, there’s much more going on here than  meets the eye. Surely this would involve cover-ups, blackmail, scandal… and maybe even the Royal Family. (Hey, if they can blame the royals for Jack the Ripper, why not?)

This just begs for Inspector Morse or Jane Tennison.


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Oh, come on. You know that was fun to say. Both are real English words, but obsolete — no one uses them any more. If you deliciate in archaic words as a much as I do, you’ll find 17 more in this list, courtesy of Heather Carreiro.

via James at Grognardia

Update: Forgot to mention — a fun book chock full of archaic and obsolete English words you can use to confuse and  annoy your listeners is Jeffrey Kacirk’s “Forgotten English.”

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I was really enjoying last night’s Person of Interest, “Blue Code,” until they had a bit of a “lazy cliché” moment.

(Spoilers below the fold)


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While it’s only part one of a two-parter, I have to admit I’m a little disappointed in last night’s “Castle” episode, “Pandora.” In plot and subtext, it’s very similar (so far) to the season 2 two-parter, “Tick,Tick, Tick” and “Boom!” In both…

(Spoilers hidden under the tag.)


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Last Monday I caught the second episode of the new “Rizzoli & Isles,” from TNT. According to the hype, this show:

…follows Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles, complete opposites and good friends who solve crimes and bust some of Boston’s most notorious criminals. Growing up at opposite ends of the economic spectrum, the two remain strikingly different from one another in many ways.

Get it? This is a groundbreaking cop show about a hardnosed Italian-American female cop in Boston and her uber-smart female forensic scientist buddy, who has trouble relating to people. And, of course, they’re both hawt. (In case you missed it, that should be read with a note of cynicism and sarcasm.) The cop, Jane Rizzoli, is played by Angie Harmon (who really is hot and thankfully a good actress) and Isles, the scientist, by Sasha Alexander.

The show was developed from a series of popular novels, and the premier last week earned great ratings. I’m sorry I missed it, because the episode I saw was utterly cliche and formulaic, from the plot through the characters and their relationships. Isles, the scientist, is clearly an attempt to copy the popularity of Bones. (Hmm… If that means Angie Harmon’s character will parallel Bones’ “Seeley Booth” and fall for her, that could be promising… Never mind.) Character interaction involved standard sharp and witty banter among cops with the woman showing she can dish it out as well as take it. Woot! How original!

The plot was a let-down, too. At first it looks as if the Boston Strangler has returned and that the police in the 60s nailed the wrong guy. Naturally, BPD doesn’t want to hear it and Rizzoli has to go against her bosses to get to the truth. (Oooh! That’s never been done before!) Finally, they arrest a guy who did time with Albert DeSalvo (the real Strangler) and the case looks solved. Only…

You guessed it: a retired cop who was on the original investigation and was sure DeSalvo didn’t do it framed the ex-con whom the BPD arrested, because the retired cop was sure the ex-con did it and wanted to “close the case before dying.” So, he went around strangling the modern victims, planting the evidence.

Yes, another “rogue retired cop” story. Something that’s been done dozens of times in the last decade, and with no variation on the theme. What a missed opportunity; it would have been so much more interesting had they turned the killer into, for example, a sociopathic copycat who then becomes Rizzoli’s nemesis for a season or two. Instead, it looks like the writers mailed it in.

In spite of this disappointing first encounter with Rizzoli and Isles, I’ll follow their adventures for another couple of episodes to see if they improve. This is a good cast that deserves better, but I didn’t see much of promise here.

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The cast of Criminal Minds

The cast of Criminal Minds

It’s one thing for a character in a movie or TV show to make a mistake that costs them dearly: pick the wrong door, dial the wrong number, or cut the wrong wire, and something bad happens. If no one made a mistake, then the story would never advance – or, if it did, it would be very dull.  So… mistakes happen, and the writer needs for them to happen.

It’s another thing altogether, however, for a writer to take his character from the realm of mistake to that of mind-numbingly stupid in order to advance his story. That is unacceptable; it ruins the tale.

Case in point: The other night, I was catching up on episodes of Criminal Minds, a generally very good series about a team of FBI profilers who ride to the rescue to catch serial killers and mass murderers. My writing partner and I have been following the show with the idea of writing a spec script for it.

The episode in question was titled “Roadkill,” from late last season. The killer murders his victims by running them down with his truck. Not a bad idea; it has kind of a “Christine” vibe to it. Trouble is, in each of the killings we see, the victims have to be unbelievably moronic to advance the story:

  • Victim #1 is caught alone on a narrow rural road, her car broken down. A truck pulls up, and she thinks help has arrived. When she realizes the driver instead intends to run her down, she flees. Up to this point, fine. No problem. Her escape is simple, right? Just run off into the nearby woods where the truck cannot follow her. So, of course, the writers have her run along the road ahead of the truck, eventually meeting her grisly death
  • Victim #2 is caught in a multi-level parking structure. When he realizes the psycho is trying to run him down, does he run into the nearby public stairwell where the half-ton pickup cannot go? Nope. Does he hide behind other cars, using them for cover until he can escape? Nah, that would be too logical. No, this fool runs ahead of the truck down a spiral ramp until he’s crushed against an elevator door.

In both cases, the victims were so dumb that I was left with little sympathy for them. They deserved to die. And the writers deserve to be mocked mercilessly.

The problem with mandated stupidity is that it breaks the suspension of disbelief. Instead of being caught up in the story, the viewer is suddenly shaking his head and asking that famous question, “WTF?” And, as I mention above, you stop caring what happens to the characters. If you don’t change the channel, you keep watching just to see how much worse the cluster-frak before your eyes will get, like watching a train wreck happen in front of you.

And that is a moment of failure as a writer.

Both writers have excellent credits to their names, so how did something this bad get out of the writer’s room? I can only guess there was time-pressure to get the episode shot and in the can to meet the schedule, and that there was no time for an extensive rewrite.  Whatever the reason, Roadkill is a good example for budding writers of what not to do.

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Sad news: SciFi Channel has canceled Stargate: Atlantis. While never as good as Stargate SG-1, it was still a very enjoyable science-fiction adventure show that had some brilliant moments. (I challenge anyone to watch either “The Storm/The Eye” two-parter or “The Siege” parts 1-3 and tell me those aren’t superb TV) It will be allowed to finish its fifth season with 100 episodes total and the likelihood of a direct to DVD movie.

Still, I weep. SciFi Channel’s other original programming is generally horrible, and I have no faith that the producers, who seem to little understand or care for science-fiction, will replace it with something worthwhile. After all, these are geniuses who thought wrestling would be appropriate.

And, overall, it’s sad to see the Stargate “universe” slowly shut down. (The rumored third series is unlikely to come about, in my opinion.) It’s a wonderful setting, a perfect vehicle for telling all sorts of stories. And it’s ideal for roleplaying games, too. (In fact, similar ideas had occurred before, notably Frederick Pohl’s Heechee saga.)

This creates an odd situation for me and my writing partner: one of our sample scripts is a Stargate: Atlantis episode. A very good one, if I do say so myself. But, spec scripts for canceled series have a limited shelf-life of about one year after cancellation. After that, they’re obsolete and not of interest to producers. The script had been written before some major cast changes took place, and we had considered rewriting it to account for those changes, but now I suspect we should just give it a once-over to fix problems and just leave the cast as is. It isn’t as if it can get any more out of date. Sad

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Bits and bobs

My writing partner and I had a good morning working together today. Our spec script for Without a Trace I think is in pretty good shape, but now we’re at a point where we need outside eyes to tell us what’s working and what doesn’t. Sadly, our current writer’s group is pretty useless. I wish we could find a stronger one.

The Without a Trace web site has a neat section: a link to this week’s featured missing person. Click here to have a look.

We’re down to five panda cories: another one bit the dust a few days ago. This is frustrating: I can only assume these two were weakened in some way, since I’m 99% sure I’m giving them good care. But still, I didn’t get back into this hobby to bring home fish to die. I’ve just fed them and, watching, three are swimming around searching for food, but two are hanging back, under the driftwood. I hope that’s not a bad sign.

I recently let my membership to the US Chess Federation expire. (Chess has been one of my main hobbies since I was a kid, but I’m an awful player. Anand has nothing to fear.) I just grew tired of the toxic politics and, since I play only by correspondence or Internet, and since the magazine is being gutted by the chuckleheads who dominate the Executive Board (Revenues are declining … I know, let’s cut services! That will bring people back!), I just felt it was no longer worth my dollars. So, I’ve joined CCLA instead. (It’s been around in one form or another since 1897.) Mostly to avoid being dropped from an ICCF event I’m playing in, but I think, with its lower dues, CCLA will be a better value for me.

As long as people don’t cheat by using computers. Waiting

So, I’m taking this Monday and next off. How am I enjoying my two three-day weekends? By burying my nose in books and writing like a madman to meet a deadline for a book project. Whee. Sure, it pays money, but I’d really hadn’t planned to be cooped up at home. Of course, if Your Host hadn’t been a dope and left most of the work for the last minute….

Oh well. At least in this modern age it’s okay for me to take no personal responsibility for myself and instead blame others.

So I blame George Bush. Doesn’t everyone? Winking

Time to get dinner on the table. Steak night — yum!

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More homework

Season four of The Closer premiers Monday night at 9PM, 8:00 CST:

Let’s hope this season is better than last, which I thought was rather a letdown.

By the by: Okay, that stinks. WordPress won’t allow me to embed video other than from YouTube or Google. That may cause me to reconsider this site.

Technorati tags: ,

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I think I’ve hit the dream of every high-school student: since I have to do homework, at least let it be watching TV.

Hey, if one wants to be a working television writer, then watching TV shows is de rigeur. My partner and I are following several shows: Criminal Minds, Without a Trace, The Closer, Cold Case, and Supernatural. Tonight’s study involves watching Supernatural, the last two episodes of the most recent season. How will they save Dean’s soul from the fires of Perdition?

Man, school is rough.

By The By: It looks like we’ll have to wait until next season to see how Dean get his … soul out of the fire. Maybe a crossover with Reaper?

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(This is one of several posts I’m saving from my LiveJournal account, which is soon to be deleted. Originally written on October 22, 2004, it describes a future-history roleplaying campaign that I’d love to run someday. It’s based largely on my fondness for 50s science fiction movies and the future as they saw it. Enjoy.)

A while back, I described a couple of RPG campaigns I’ve considered running over the years. I’ve had another in mind, but it’s a bit different from the last two: a future history of humanity, but the future is that seen from 50s science fiction. Right now, I have three stages or phases in mind.

Phase One

Title: “The Aliens Have Hitler’s Brain,” or, “Saturn By 1970!”

Inspirations: “The Thing,” “Earth vs. The Flying Saucers,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” “This Island Earth*,” “Project Orion,” and “GURPS: Atomic Horror.” *(Among other glorious movies from that period)

Overview of part A: This campaign would begin with deception. The players would be lead to believe they are playing an espionage game set in early post-war Germany and Austria, and that their opponents are Nazi holdouts and Communist agents. Indeed, early missions would be just that. Soon, however, they would get hints that maybe Der Fuehrer didn’t die in the ruins of Berlin, that he may instead be leading a resistance (that didn’t happen in our world) from a redoubt in the Alps, near where the German, Austrian, and Swiss borders meet. Investigations would reveal two things: the Nazis made a deal late in the war with some “foreign power” (really, the aliens), and that the Soviets are hunting Hitler for their own reasons. This part of the campaign climaxes as the players realize just who Nazi’s “foreign patrons” really are and race to capture him before a) he can unleash the alien wonder-weapons and b) the Soviets capture him. In the base, they also discover that Hitler is now a disembodied brain held in a bell-jar. The Soviets attack at the same time, and the time wasted dealing with them allows Hitler and the aliens to escape in their Foo Fighters, although their immediate plans are foiled. The governments involved hush the whole matter up to prevent a panic.

Overview of part B: several years pass, and the PCs have moved on to various careers — Intelligence, Science, Investigative Reporting. The careers that always seem to pop-up in those films. The Space Race is on, pitting the US against whatever Stalin is cooking up behind the Iron Curtain. While the public knows nothing of the events in Germany and thinks the Space Race is just a nationalist competition to get into orbit, those in the know realize the danger we face and have decided that we can’t wait passively for “them” to come back. Besides, there are rumors that Moscow would like to cut its own deal with the aliens. (I need a good name for them.) Over the intervening years there have been UFO sightings and incidents, convincing some that “they” are watching us, but nothing iron-clad. That is, not until America finds the right way into space: Orion ships. The aliens decide they can’t wait any longer and attack. For the climax, think of the big battle at the end of “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.” Humanity wins, but there’s no hiding the alien threat any longer.

What do the players do? They can be scientists in the space projects and those tasked to protect them from alien and Communist interference. Or they can be unaffiliated with these, but their jobs lead them into dangerous encounters, much like Gene Barry’s scientist in “War of the Worlds” or the flight crew in “The Thing.” Not all adventures would involve the Alien-Nazi plot, thus letting me work in other themes from 50s sci-fi, such as people and animals mutated by radiation (Inspirations: “Black Scorpions” and “THEM!”), or weird visitors from beyond who aren’t necessarily bad (“It came from Outer Space”).

Part B ends with the defeat of the aliens and the successful launching of the USS ORION, Earth’s first real spaceship.

Phase Two

Title: “Into the Dark”

Inspirations: “It! The Terror From Beyond Space,” Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky,” but I need others.

Overview: In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, mankind begins to colonize the Solar System and, thanks to the discovery of the “Atomic Star Drive” can now travel to nearby star systems in a matter of weeks or months. The aliens who so threatened us in the 50s are nowhere to be seen, though evidence of their presence is found on Mars, Titan, and in Alpha Centauri. They seem to have hastily evacuated after their defeat on Earth. There are hints, however, of a “war in the heavens,” the stars mankind cannot reach yet.

This phase allows the players to explore the wonders and dangers of space in a less military or conflict-oriented setting. Possible character types include colonists, Federal Marshals, and explorers, scientists, and archaeologists (to research the lost civilization of Mars and the abandoned alien bases). There is still conflict with the Soviet bloc, who have developed their own Orion drives and are making secretive trips of their own along with the newly-arrived Chinese. The phase ends with a devastating nuclear war between the USSR and China that grows into World War 3*. The aftermath sees the foundation of the Terran Federation.

*(Hey, I said this was inspired by 50s sci-fi, didn’t I? 🙂 )

Phase Three

Title: “Monsters, John! Monsters from the Id!” or “Star Trek the way it was meant to be”

Inspirations: “Forbidden Planet,” “Star Trek” (the original series), the Terro-Human future history of H. Beam Piper, various other old science fiction stories of “man out in space.”

Overview: It’s the year 2300 and Mankind is exploring its arm of the galaxy. Atomic power has been replaced by “anti-gravity” (or some sort of 50s hand-waving), and Earth ships now resemble the flying saucers they once fought against. We’ve found the aliens who once attacked us, and a Cold War now exists between us and their Empire. Naturally, Hitler is still alive; alien tech has kept his brain healthy. He is now the de facto ruler of their Empire, plotting his revenge. Mankind encounters new civilizations, some more advanced, some less.

Players could be explorers and scouts, sent to find new worlds for colonization, or the crew of a Federation saucer sent to find out what happened to them. They could be diplomats sent to find allies among the stars to hold off the threat of the “Stern Reich.” The major “feel” of this campaign should be that, even though we can travel the stars, space is still vast and empty. The setting should never feel crowded, nor should the PCs feel that they can just zip back to Earth or radio for help at a moment’s notice. They should feel like they are out on a limb by themselves, a limb that could break at any moment.

I’m not sure how this phase ends.

As you can see, phases two and three are less-developed than phase one. I need to fool around with the ideas some more and firm up what I want while still leaving plenty of opportunity for players to do what they want. (The eternal dilemma of the GM) Suggestions and ideas for source material that fits the “Atomic Era” view of the future would be welcome.

Oh, as for game systems, I had originally envisioned GURPS, but I haven’t bought 4th edition. Of course I could use 3rd edition, but now I’m leaning toward making it a HERO campaign with some optional rules to give it a grittier feel.

Ta for now!

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