A Mass Effect Diaspora

Diaspora After a long hiatus I’ll finally be running a new roleplaying game campaign again. On the weekend I met with my group and made the proposal to play Diaspora, VSCA Publishing’s Hard-SF Fate-based game. My players have never played Fate before, but after me explaining the basics of the game they were interested to try it out. Alas they were not so fond of the Hard-SF nature of Diaspora.

The other aspect of Diaspora they were alas not excited about Diaspora’s cluster creation. When I first told them that I was thinking about running a SF game they were – unbeknownst to me – hoping for an exploration based game. While I don’t necessarily see a problem here, they felt that creating a cluster beforehand would make exploration harder, since they already feel they know what’s behind the next corner.

The lack of real character advancement in Diaspora was something they were not too fond of either, but this is something I can easily houserule. As far as I remember do other Fate variants like SBA or FreeFate provide some character advancement rules that I might be able to adapt to Diaspora. Personally I think that character advancement is not that important, but I can still understand where they are coming from.

Mass Effect 2 We discussed our options for a while and finally settled on using Reaganstorme’s excellent Mass Effect hack for Diaspora. They are all fond of the setting and the Mass Effect universe should offer enough space for exploration. But I’ve learned from the mistakes I made the last time I ran a Mass Effect game. Mass Effect works best if you focus on aspects of the setting that have already been explored by the computer games. If you stray too far from that, you might get into areas that have not been fully fleshed out yet. In our case this lead to quite a few unanswered questions and a game that felt a bit too generic. This time I’ll make sure that places, organisations and characters from the computer game series will play a major role in the campaign. The players are interested in Mass Effect, so they are getting exactly that.

In order to make the Mass Effect universe a bit more suitable for the kind of game I have in mind, I’ll mess with the story line a bit. At the end of Mass Effect 2 Shepard destroys the Collector Base and the human Reaper. This causes the Reapers in dark space to awaken and they start descending upon the galaxy. In my variant of the Mass Effect universe the Reapers will either be asleep for a couple more years or it will take longer for them to reach our galaxy. Heck, I might even decide that they’ll never return. I want to focus on our stories without having to worry about a Reaper invasion in the near future.

We’ll probably meet again in about three weeks so I’ll have more than enough time to read through all the rules for another time, plan a first adventure and create a couple of locations and characters. I might actually use the cluster creation rules to create the sectors of space the player characters will be exploring.

Have you ever thought about running a game in the Mass Effect universe? Or do you have experiences with Diaspora? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

3 thoughts on “A Mass Effect Diaspora”

  1. My girlfriend and a mutual friend ran a co-op GM game of Mass Effect. they just used Savage worlds for the sake of simplicity, and it went down really well. Each GM knew what was going on, and they both knew the plot and NPCs backwards, but they each took on the role of either Paragon or Renegade, offering certain choices to players based on their previous activities. It was a really nice touch, but bookkeeping wise might be a problem for one GM or a long campaign.

    They’re going back to it soon though to try out a longer campaign, and will be setting it in the story’s past. Something to do with the Rachni threat I think. I won’t be playing in the game myself – another game running at the same time in our gaming society has captured my attention already…

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