Starbound: Intentions

I'm pestering people for information in other places at the moment as to what they'd want in a science-fiction setting - both in terms of the Starbound setting, and what they'd like to do themselves in the RPG aspect of it. Here, I'm going to set out things that I want to see in it.

First and foremost, I want it to be big. I've seen small science-fiction settings, and they're almost without exception dystopian, dull, or just unhappy - David Feintuch's Hope series, for instance, I found to be actually depressing. I want a feeling of vastness, of open spaces, a notion that anything can be done, if only you can find out how.

I want my aliens to be alien. I've been amused by the "humans with pointy ears" aspect of aliens as depicted in science fiction for many years, particularly in television. In the RPG aspect, aliens will just plain not be available as player characters, and those that do appear will be non-humanoid, and largely incomprehensible. Ideally, I'd like aspects of human psychology as basic as survival and the urge to reproduce not to be quite the same, although I recognise that that's difficult within what we recognise as life.

I want the technology to be consistent. In some settings, we see awesome technology in some areas - the ships and instantaneous FTL communication of Star Wars, for instance, with none at all in others; most characters in Star Wars didn't appear to use any personal non-weapon technology at all, not even a wristwatch or the equivalent. So in my setting, people will have and use technology - and that technology will have an effect on them, just as mobile phones, the internet, and easy international travel is having on our society now.

I want the potential games people can play in the setting to be many. There should be a possiblity of the role-heavy RPG, and the dice-heavy RPG, the tactical game, the economic game, the exploration game. People should be able to look at it carefully and go "actually, everything connected with this planet is derived from Yeats' poetry" - and to completely ignore that, should they wish. Actually considering the number of references, homages and the like that I've worked unnoticed into games over the last two decades, players ignoring them is more likely.

I want to preclude a few things before I even start. Instantaneous travel will not happen; to get anywhere in this setting, you must pass through intermediate places and take time. Instantaneous communication, likewise - the time lag will be small on planets, annoying on an interplanetary scale without information shuttle systems, and the same speed as travel on an interstellar basis.

And finally, as a general guideline, I don't want war to be a major feature of the stories told in this setting. Conflict, yes, of course. But it must be possible to tell a non-war story in an epic science fiction setting.

Posted by Drew Shiel at February 23, 2006 1:59 PM

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