Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Dim 18 Oct - 13:53 (2009)
So you don’t like the Patent Office, or can’t wrap your head around the Transcendentals. You’d rather do something else instead. What are your options?
There are dozens of Tao milieus and room for hundreds more. The Stardwellers’ belief in diversity provides an incredible variety of possibilities. Even a game of rebellion inside the Union is feasible, especially if you’re a fan of movies like Equilibrium. While we’re not going to delve too deeply into this area, we thought it might be worthwhile to give GMs a few quick single-civilization campaign ideas.
At the most simple level, you might decide to keep the universe as-is and simply work for someone else, or even quit the Patent Office and go freelance. There are good stories to be told about a group of operatives from, say, one Tao milieu spying on another, or a couple of Union members infiltrating the Masquerade.
There are also a lot of fun games you could run if all your players were really heavily into a particular civilization. You could play Old-Worlders exploring the ruins of the ancient cities of Earth. You could play Cognitive Union operatives defending their motherland from the ignorant outsiders. The Stored could be a great place to explore different sort of forms of sentience and intelligence, and the Stardwellers can certainly provide a more traditional space exploration game. A prison-break game could be set in Mechanica, where inmates are made to inhabit industrial robots for heavy labor. If you’re looking for a more humorous set-up, consider playing behind-the-scenes emergency technical support for the Tao of History, or a group of peacekeepers trying to make sure all the Tao’s different milieus don’t bomb each other into oblivion.
If you need a reasonable excuse to organize people from different civilizations together for a single purpose, the societies make excellent fodder for games set outside the Patent Office. Characters who work the black market for the criminal underworld might visit many different civilizations to work their magic. The characters might be a bunch of Sleepers who awaken hundreds of years after they wanted to, needing to find out what’s going on in the universe these days. The Hospitalers provide the most altrusitic option, helping those in need regardless of whether or not they can pay for it. The Stardwellers, especially, can provide a good base for a multi-civilization group, as their ships visit all of them eventually.
Some folks get overwhelmed by having fourteen differnet civilizations to pick from. Some GMs are overwhelmed by it too, not wanting to deal with how all those groups interact and avoid going to war. If you’re interested in a major overhaul of the S.A. universe, excising the majority of the setting and just playing with a few elements at a time, this section is for you. Rather than paying attention to a dozen strange cultures, you can delve into a smaller number in greater detail.
For example, consider a game in which only the Old-Worlders, Logicians, and Spacers survived, and everyone else is reduced to Cargo Cult status. The game could follow a group of Old-Worlder characters who leave their home to explore the wider world, occasionally interacting with the near-alien Logicians. The Transcendentals might have allied themselves with the Logicians, or might be guiding these Old-Worlders though a carefully orchestrated series of wormholes that lead them from one cult to another, towards an uncertain end. Each of the groups in this campaign are relatively insular, which will slow down technological advancement, so this setting could theoretically be thousands of years farther into the future than the standard game of S.A. This sort of game will be driven much more by characters’ beliefs (and how far they’re willing to go for them) than by their abilities.
To create a game with a giant built-in dichotomy, try playing with just the Masquerade, Union, and Roamers. On one side is the conformist Cognitive Union, which slowly swallows up its opponents creating its utopian slave-state. On the other side is a wild, dynamic culture where everyone’s pretending to be someone they’re not and the whole civilization seems to be riding a wave of chaos. The Roamers are there as the daring third option, the people who sneak into both sides when they’re not looking and hide in the cracks in those societies. When it comes to moral issues it’s hard to come up with a more heavy- handed setting.
If you ever intend to play a game where human replication is acceptable, you might want to start with everyone as a Replicant. After all, the Association of Eternal Life is a pretty interesting place. There are many groups within the Association dedicated specifically to doing interesting things that would be horribly dangerous to anyone without a backup on file. There are massively complex mazes of case law to navigate, there’s cutting-edge research being done all over the place, and there are some of the most insane parties in all the universe. A thorough exploration of what life is like with a few copies of yourself around really deserves its own game.
First introduced on page 5, this style of play lets the players create Civilizations when they create their characters. Those civilizations then get detailed through play, with Twists and cutscenes defining how they work and interact later on. This section talks about how to run that kind of game. Our assumption in this section is that the players are either disinterested in reading the background info in this book, or are more interested in creating their own universe to play around with.
During character creation, players can pick four Core Values for their characters. Two of these belong specifically to the character; the remaining two come from his or her civilization. Each player should name the character’s Civilization and write down its CVs, and write down answers to these questions:
1. What is your civilization best known for?
2. How technologically advanced is your civilization, and how obvious is it to outsiders?
3. In what ways does your civilization interact with others?
4. What is your civilization’s special benefit? You’ll have to run this past the GM; some sample benefits from existing civilizations can be found on page 72.
Everything else can wait for later. Let’s use the example from the Quickstart section in the front of the book:
The Order of the Knights of Eternity
CVs: Drama and Eternity
Best known for: Cloning, and swordplay in an age when swords are typically useless.
Tech Levels: Good Biotech and Metatech, not as good on others. Usually not obvious.
Interactions: Hired as guards and mercenaries, and also as historians.
Benefit: Access to the Warrior-Poet Profession, which covers both Soldier and Artist.
Here’s another example that was used as a newly discovered civilization in one of our playtests:
The Dreamtime People
CVs: Dream and Time
Best known for: A vast and pervasive infosphere with “echoes” of previous thoughts floating around to be picked up.
Tech Levels: Extensive Cognitech and good Meta, middle to low on others.
Interactions: Neutral meeting ground, and known for their excellent programming.
Benefit: +1 on rolls to predict future trends or events
As the game goes on, characters will no doubt end up traveling to each of the different Civilizations that have been created. It’s still the GM’s job to come up with descriptions of the characters’ surroundings, and with NPCs in this area. However, the player who created that Civilization can spend a Twist to obtain “retcon authority” for that area, changing the GM’s description to make it more like he or she imagined. For instance, let’s say your GM describes the Knights as using vibroblades and heavy impact armor, and you’ve always imagined them as concealing their tech more. You can spend a Twist, if you like, to specify that they use monofilament blades, and defend themselves with their impressive agility.
If a player attempts to retcon something that the GM was using as an important plot element, the two should talk it over, perhaps in another room so that the other players can still be surprised later on. A game without surprises gets boring quickly.
GMs can also ask players for a more detailed description of their civilization. This is probably best done between game sessions, because inventing a plausible civilization on the fly isn’t easy. A lot can be accomplished with descriptive pieces of prose, telling short stories from that civilization or describing an important part of it. Rather than attempting to talk about every detail of the civilization, concentrate on what seems most interesting to you. After all, most civilizations contain billions of people, and it’s difficult to make generalizations.
Each character is assumed to come from a different Civilization. It’s possible that two or more characters could come from the same place if they share Core Values; the players should talk that over amongst themselves so that they don’t try to use Twists to retcon two different results at once.