Monday, December 20, 2010

Distractions and Departures

I need to write up some NPCs and critters, but the Barbarians of Lemuria round is basically written.  DC Adventures is going to be harder.  For one thing, BoL PCs can be pretty easily knocked out in a few minutes.  DCA requires a considerably longer time.  Also, since I'm adapting characters from media, this will entail a fair bit of adjudication on my part.  When I submitted the adventure, I expected the two volumes of heroes and villains to be out, at least in PDF form, but even if they were, I'd still end up changing the characters to better fit their animated versions.

For the time being, I'll just work on the plot and make sure it all fits into place.

Of course, since I'm supposed to be working on this, I am, of course, thinking about other games.  At the moment, the two topics of most interest are Feng Shui and Star Wars.  A thread opened up on RPGnet recently about running Star Wars using only "A New Hope" (aka "Star Wars" for those of my generation) as the sole piece of canon.  This turned up a somewhat earlier thread and they both make for interesting reads as well as inspiring a slew of memories.

I was fourteen when "Star Wars" came out in 1977.  In fact, I saw it on my birthday, because movies didn't open simultaneously nationwide back then.  Fourteen was also the same time I discovered wargaming, which led directly to Melee and Wizard, which eventually led to D&D and then other RPGs.  But within weeks of learning how to play Melee and Wizard, I'd already begun modifying them.  One of my early efforts was an adapation of Star Wars.  This was still a couple of years before of The Empire Strikes Back, and the only other contributions to the canon at the time were Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye, Marvel's Star Wars comics (which are effing CRAZY), and little snippets that would show up here and there in the pages of Starlog magazine.

My rules mods were rudimentary.  My sense of what the world was about was, in retrospect, just crazy.  Dragons from Wizard were re-skinned as Krait Dragons.  Blasters were stupid deadly, Imperial Stormtroopers couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and a Jedi Knight was the most powerful force on the board.  All in all, I suppose, not that different from any incarnation of the RPG rules.  What I do remember is playing the hell out of it for at least a couple of months before D&D came along and introduced me to Traveller (which I immediately houseruled to include lots of LucasArt Intellectual Property).

What I really remember though is that sense of sheer potential.  Since virtually nothing was known, it seemed virtually anything was possible.  The thing is, I don't think I could run a game today that could capture that lightning in a bottle.  Things are just too well nailed down and creating the setting would be an enormous exercise in "OK, this exists, but in this game it's like X instead of Y.  Also, Z doesn't exist at all."  In short, it's fun to think about, but actually doing it would require more work and player buy-in than would probably be worthwhile.

And if thinking about that approach isn't enough, there's another that's been intruding on me.  A few weeks ago, I managed to score a copy of Bill Slavicsek's A Guide to the Star Wars Universe: From Airspeeders to Zorba the Hutt and Beyond -- Everything You Need To Know About the Expanding Universe of Star Wars! (2nd Edition).  It's from 1994 or so, during the period when Star Wars pretty much existed as a source for novels and comics, computer games, and an RPG published by West End Games.  In fact, WEG had pretty much become the official keepers of Star Wars continuity, so it's no surprise that Mr. Slavicsek's name would grace the cover of this weighty tome.  Every word of it comes from well-before "The Phantom Menace," and as such, entries like The Clone Wars and the Sith are wonderfully vague.  The Marvel comics are intentionally left out of canon (as are the newspaper daily strips that no one but me seems to remember), but pretty much anything else they could cram in is there.  It's a wonderful testament to the state of the art, a decade or so after the supposed end of the franchise.  I think it would make an awesome game setting as well, provided the players could be well enough informed about the differences between the universe described in the Guide and the one Mr. Lucas later decided to saddle us with.

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