Dungeoncraft: Ad Astra #2

Bounty Hunter by Goro Fujita (www.area-56.de) In my last Dungeoncraft post I promised some details on the history of the “Ad Astra!” universe. My initial idea was to present my players with a world not much different from we have today. Most of the major nations were still there and each super power had its own space program with space stations in earth’s orbit, minor colonies on Moon and Mars and mining operations in the asteroid belt. But then I decided that I wanted to do things differently.

Omega Centauri
The globular cluster Omega Centauri is about 18,300 lightyears away from our solar system and contains several generations of stars, so that some scientist believe that Omega Centauri could be the core of a former dwarf galaxy that has been captured by the Milky Way. In “Ad Astra!” this is the home of a human civilization. Several hundred years ago a colony ship crashed on an habitable world in the Omega Centauri cluster. When the 10,000 colonists awoke from their cryogenic chambers they at once found out that something was terribly wrong. Nobody could remember anything from their past – not even their own names. All other memories were still intact. When they started salvaging the crashed colony ship, they found out that the ship’s main computer was still mostly intact but all historical databases were blank and the navigational subprocessor was broken beyond repair. They were stranded and didn’t even know where they initially came from. So they decided to start picking up the pieces, building a city from the remains of the ship. They called their new home “Citadel” after their crashed vessel.

Brave New World
This concept allows me to shape the civilization from the ground up. And since most of the original space ship is still salvageable it’s plausible that the colonist would be ready to return to the stars after only a few centuries. The reason how they crashed on Citadel and why they have no memories of their past lives shall remain a mystery. This could even be an interesting hook for an “Ad Astra!” campaign.
The fact that the Omega Centauri cluster is so far away from Earth has several advantages, too: not much is know about that region of space so that even an astronomy-geek wouldn’t know that much about it. If you run an SF campaign closer to Earth there’s always the problem that one of your players may for example notice when you turned Betelgeuse into a dwarf star by mistake. If you choose a far away region of space you can just use some solar system creation rules (like the ones in GURPS Space or Traveller) and create your own stars, worlds, nebulae, etc.
This shall be enough for today. As always I am interested in your thoughts, so feel free to leave your comments!

Doctor Who RPG – Could this really work?

Doctor Who and RoseSome time ago I heard that Cubicle 7 Entertainment is working on a new Doctor Who RPG. Since I am a great fan of Doctor Who and Torchwood I was of course very excited. But at the same time I was a bit skeptical: Could this really work?

The Cubicle 7 website doesn’t give us any hints on what the focus of their roleplaying game may be. The most important question will be what the players will be. Will they be part of the Doctor’s companions? Some random guys who live in the “Whoniverse” or even Time Lords like the Doctor? Let’s speculate a bit…

The Doctor Who TV show is pretty much focussed on the adventures of Doctor Who and his various companions who are travelling through time and space, saving civilizations, correcting wrongs, solving mysteries and ensuring that London is visited by evil aliens at least every Christmas. One possible concept could be that the player characters are those companions that the Doctor has picked up in any place or any time (preferably on Earth) and now they are travelling with him in the TARDIS. Although this is my favorite idea of a Doctor Who game it has it’s flaws. At first the GM is faced with playing the Doctor all the time. What could be fun for a few sessions will probably turn into a problem fast. In fact the Doctor becomes the GM’s player character. And in the series it’s usually the Doctor and his favorite “plot device” aka his sonic screwdriver that saves the day. So the players move to the 2nd row.

Random guys
The  “whouniverse” is a big place, so why not make it your playground? The Doctor (and his companions) could be recurring characters that you’ll help in one adventure and that will save your hide in another session. But how do you allow the players to travel time and space like the Doctor does? The only thing that comes to mind is make them agents of that mysterious time agency Jack Harkness had been working for. That would allow them access to 51st century technology and time travel. So it’s probably best if the players are not some random guys but “time agents”. Hmm, this could work.

Time Lords
The Doctor tells us at least in every other episode that he’s the last member of his race, that his homeworld was destroyed in the time war. But that didn’t prevent the Master to come back. And although the Doctor thought the Daleks were gone for good too, they reappeared several times. So, it’s totally possible that there are still some Time Lords around. I hope that’s not what Cubicle 7 is aiming for with their Doctor Who RPG. Having a lot of very powerful Time Lords running loose in the “whoniverse” would probably destroy the special atmosphere of the series. And the fact that the Doctor is the last one of his kind makes him something unique.

Perhaps the creative minds at Cubicle 7 have come up with a lot more ideas on how a Doctor Who campaign could work. What are your thoughts on the subject? Could a Doctor Who RPG really work and what kind of campaign would you like to see?

Dungeoncraft: Ad Astra!

Spaceport by Goro Fujita (www.area-56.de)Although Asecia is still on hiatus, my Dungeoncraft column is back. And this time we venture into the great void aka outer space. I thought about changing the title of the column to make it more compatible with the SF genre, but in the end I decided to keep “Dungeoncraft”. Some people may also argue that alien planets are some kind of dungeons too…

As I posted before I am very interested in writing a Science Fiction setting. Over the holidays I started playing EVE Online again and since then my head is filled with images of strange new worlds and huge space ships and bold adventurers who boldly go where no one has gone before!

In order to create a believeable SF setting we have to make some basic assumptions that are extrapolated from current technologies, societies, et cetera. The farther we move away from the 21st century the more free you are in developing your world. If you want a galaxy-spanning human civilization in 2050 you really have to come up with some extraodinary ideas to make this plausible. If you place your setting in the 41st century, things become much easier to swallow

Ok, let’s give our new child a name. What about “Ad Astra!”? It’s short, simple and to the point. Now everyone knows it’s about travelling to the stars. I agree, the name might be a bit clichéd but I like it nevertheless. Since the focus is on space exploration “Ad Astra!” must have a few elements that are not strictly “Hard Science” like FTL (Faster Than Light) travel and everything that comes with it. Realistic space travel is not very fun, I tell you. And since everyone likes having some cool powers the setting will also allow some psionic abilities. To make it more science-y psionics will probably need some special equipment that enhances human psionic potential or genetic modification.

Next time I will give you some details on the the history of “Ad Astra!” universe. Stay tuned!
As always I am interested in your thoughts, comments and critique. So please use the comment section below or contact me via the contact form on the “About” page.

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