I think as long as I knew about roleplaying games I was looking for the “perfect” science fiction setting. Of course there’s no such thing. But there’s something close, a setting which I would love to run games in and which I can really make my own. During the last twenty years or so, I have created several homebrew SF campaign settings. But usually I am not perfectly happy with them. One reason for this is probably that I can’t make up my mind. I am always torn between the gritty hard science setting I’d love to play in and the space opera setting I could find players for.
The question quickly boils down to whether I want to put a lot of work in something I’d love even if I will never put it to use. Don’t get me wrong, I also love space opera settings. But when it comes to writing my own stuff, I always want to get things “right”. Even when I have some cool ideas for a light-hearted space opera setting, I usually end up on Atomic Rockets (a website I could peruse for days at a time!) and try to reconcile my pet theories with real-world physics. This ends with me throwing out half the stuff I’ve written so far, in order to make the technology more “real”.
So I constantly try to walk the thin line between approachabilty and realism, and – trust me – I am not good at tightrope walking. The next problem is that I am often inspired by existing settings from books, movies, video games, but I don’t want my homebrew setting to look like some Frankensteinian nightmare. Most people I know would probably not care. A lot of people have successfully run or played in kitchen sink settings in which space marines from Warhammer 40,000 fought Borg from the Star Trek universe while being allied to the Jedi order from Star Wars. This just feels wrong to me.
I think my mental health issues are partly to blame for this. Back in the day, before I had to deal with depression, anxiety, and all these other nice things, it was much easier to be creative. Nowadays I often overthink everything and turn activities that should be fun into a nightmare. Ok, perhaps I am exaggerating a bit, but I guess it helps to make a point. What I am now hoping for is advice from you guys. I am pretty sure I am not the only one having this problem. How have you dealt with something like this in the past? Please post your comments below!