Sunday, August 23, 2015

Splinters of Tomorrow: Towards an Elevator Pitch

So, I wasn't sure what approach I would take with a (possible!) future sci-fi version of Saga of the Splintered Realm which incorporated elements from Sentinels of Echo City. I would want to do several things with this, and I feel pulled in a number of directions at once. Here are the questions I started asking myself:

1. Should this even exist? I mean, there are a number of great sci-fi systems that emulate old school play already. Is one more needed? The answer is pretty simple... the same question could be asked for an old school retro-clone and an old school superhero game. I was pleasantly surprised to find there was room for both of those, so I suppose this could find a place, too. Since the first came out in my fictional revisionist history version of 1981 and the second in 1984, this one belongs right smack dab during 1987.

2. What is this? I have a number of options. My first instinct is to go with a straight-up homage to a specific sci-fi franchise that might have a new movie coming out this December. SW is my single largest creative inspiration, as it is for many of us, and the desire to re-create that world is pretty strong. However, that's been done. In fact, much of what I might want to do has 'been done'. I learned that what gamers want, as much as a solid ruleset to use, is an environment to use it in. A campaign setting. So, what could I do to differentiate my campaign setting from any other?

The answer is nothing. I cannot DO anything to intentionally differentiate it. I am not going to look at Traveler and see what I can keep or leave... or Warhammer... or White Star... or Hulks and Horrors... or Star Wars... etc, etc.

Nope, I'm just going to do my own thing and see how it works out. So this is, I think, the answer.

If Saga of the Splintered Realm is a fictional 'what if' of an ancient realm, Splinters of Tomorrow is the fictional 'what if' of that same realm, several thousand years later. It's NOT fantasy in space, because such things as arcane magic, dragons, and elves are long since gone. They have been reduced to the role of fairy tales. Many things have changed.

But some things have survived. The battle between good and evil as represented in the conflict between Bael and Yahalla. The power of faith and magic associated with it (although it has morphed and grown in significant ways). The interaction between the world and a variety of other-planar dimensions. These are different, but it's the same world, fast forward about 2,000 years. Since SSR is set in the year 228, I may set this game in the year 2228. I see 'big events' happening in markers of 1000 years, so there would have been two such big events since the events detailed in Saga of the Splintered Realm.

This provides very specific ground rules for me to work with, and a very well-defined (at least in my imagination) world that I can now bring through 2000 years of history to give it some internal consistency and a sense of authenticity. There are a large number of things I just 'know' about this world from the outset, and clear limitations on what won't be here.

Or rather, wouldn't be here. In the fictional alternate universe where I actually make this thing.