And the sky was full of stars
So, this is a slight step to the left but those great folks at LokeBattle Mats commissioned me to write a sci-fi adventure for them.
I'll let that sink in for a moment...
Yes, I know, The Grinning Frog is all about fantasy - but isn't sci-fi just fantasy with more electricity? I'm kidding... sort of. The reality is that I've spent an equal amount of my time playing sci-fi RPGs as I have fantasy ones.
I was involved in a decade long FASA Star Trek campaign that was probably the most complete RPG campaign I ever took part in. My friend, John, who ran the game was extremely detail orientated and loved Star Trek to a very deep degree. I grew up watching Doctor Who, Blakes 7 and Star Trek so it was right in my wheel house also and the campaign was a ton of fun. Lots of good memories.
I've also played a lot of Traveller which I thought was a very capable system but I never fell in love with it as many people did.
When I launched The Grinning Frog I made the choice to focus on fantasy although I have another brand idea developed under which I might well start to produce more sci-fi products in the new year. (That's very much work-in-progress at this stage.) However, having written a well received 5e adventure for Loke earlier in the year they kindly came back to me and asked if I could write a sci-fi adventure to support their upcoming Kickstarter campaign.
The key question was which game system to base it on. We kicked around a few options before settling on Starfinder from Paizo. About six months ago, I got a copy of the rules and began to learn them, running short sessions and encounters to get my head around them. I have to say, I love them! They have a real economy of description which I love - 5e drives me nuts with it's long winded way of saying 'save ends'. Whoever wrote Starfinder wanted things to be concise and I think it makes it fast and easy to play and rule reference.
I also love the mechanical crunch that very much reminds me of 4e - which you probably know if you've read this blog for any length of time, is my favourite DnD system.
As a result, writing the adventure, from a mechanical standpoint, was really enjoyable. Building the star ship took me back to the original Car Wars in it's format. All good fun.
Also, because the adventure was to support the map Kickstarter I got to draft out my ideas based on some gorgeous looking maps. Matt at Loke also redrew the space outpost map to reflect the adventure content and it looks amazing. I really want to get it printed it at tactical miniature size and run a wargame or two on the outpost - never mind play the adventure!
SPOILER ALERT - READING the cast of characters will show some threats and details relating to the adventure. Only read Beginning the Adventure if you want to play the adventure without knowing anything.
-- SPOILERS END
I had great fun coming up with a different looking page to reflect the sci-fi aspect and kudo's to my youngest son for wearing his 'creative developer hat' and helping tweak the design format. Who knew green was going to work so well on blue? Not me! (I struggle with colour choices.)
And yes, you can spot at least two cultural references in my choices of names...
As always, the adventure is easily transferable into any other game system and people are talking about Traveller, Mothership and others. One person even suggested portals from a dungeon into space. Which took me back to about 1983 when we did that briefly. The craziness of youth! I like to think that there is something to learn with every project I work on and having a cast list was something that occurred to me whilst working on a fantasy adventure with Jimmy Wild, an RPG writer in Australia. He had a lot of character names and I was getting lost so I produced a list and then it looked like it would be useful for other adventures.
I've extended the idea in the space adventure - called The Medusa's Child - by listing if the person is an adversary/npc/ally and whether they are an individual or recurring.
SPOILER ALERT - Adventure details incoming - For example, on the ship, there are defensive microbes that are produced. They are listed as Defence microbes, threat, recurring. I'm thinking this will be a quick, handy reference point for the GM.
-- SPOILERS END
Writing for sci-fi has it's challenges, which I've experienced before. The notion that almost anything is possible rears it's head quite a lot however that really parallel's with magic in fantasy so managing what could be with what you want to be the situation is broadly the same - that is create realistic rules for your world and stick within them.
Actually, let me rephrase that - create a realistic world and then layer in rules.
Their Kickstarter campaign is running at the moment:
And it is an absolute bargain. If you are a sci-fi gamer you want to get onto this. All digital rewards. The adventure was also a commission for them so it's not mine and I won't be selling it on here. I believe it will be available as part of a digital bundle on DrivethruRPG at a later date.
As for my sci-fi brand... I'm in the process of planning out next year so more news on that over the coming weeks.
Until next time, stay safe and keep gaming.
PS You still have time to back: