Walking through Target at this time of year always makes me think about GM’ing an RPG.
All the school supplies for sale artfully displayed in a small section of the store awakens an itch in my gaming soul.
Seeing all the packages of crisp, clean graph paper, the new empty binders/notebooks with lots of empty pockets, dividers and the packages of pens, pencils, colored pencils, highlighters etc makes me want to rip open those packages of graph paper and colored pencils and begin laying out the bones of an adventure.
But what adventure?
I’m no longer interested in the worlds of Fantasy. Dungeons & Dragons will always have an honored spot in my memory. Designing dungeons ruled by a vampire clan that threw orcs, gelatinous cubes, zombies, skeletons and giants at the adventurers in vain attempts to prevent the adventurers reaching and destroying the vampires was fun. Or sketching out vast cave networks where the adventurers were being hunted down by an angry red dragon for killing its hatchlings. The creation of these worlds and populating them with monsters, magic swords, potions and scrolls will always be remembered as fun, creative times.
But I’m currently more interested in science fiction settings.
And this is where my conflict is.
I really like what I’ve read about the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG system. There is/was a live play podcast called “Bothan Banter” https://bothanbanter.com/ that was very entertaining to listen to and provided great insight into game play that you can’t get from reading the rules & sourcebooks.
But I like Marc Miller’s Traveller universe better. It ‘feels’ more of a science-fiction milieu, especially if set during the time of the Imperium. Where the Star Wars universe is a little more cartoony in my opinion. In the Traveller universe I can see more adventures in the style of Robert H. Heinlien, like Lazarus Long and his extended family colonizing planets and moving on, or Starship Troopers engaged in pitched battles.
I think an Edge of the Empire story could work with a Traveller style feel. It’s a little grittier than an Age of Rebellion story, it could deal more with humans and aliens, less with Force users and Imperial antagonists. A story about gamblers, second sons from aristocratic planets, shady deals, crime lords and their henchmen all while keeping out of Imperial view would flow nicely. Or a remote colony world where rare metals are discovered leading to an influx of prospectors, confidence tricksters, unscrupulous corporations and mercenaries hiring out as guards, bandits or militia.
FFG’s dice with their success/fail mechanic, advantages, disadvantages, triumphs and despair encourage and nurture storytelling. The GM can make a task more challenging by adding difficulty dice to the dice pool. The players can enhance their successes by rolling some advantages or triumphs. Likewise the GM can tone down their successes if they roll some disadvantages.
Sure, maybe they successfully picked the pocket of a minor character by rolling up a success, however some threats lead to a loud mouthed kid that saw them and he starts yelling what he saw at the top of his lungs!
That sounds like fun!
I think I’ve resolved my conflict.