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Month Index: February, 1996

From:     Ken Lipka <klipka@????.com>
Date:     Mon, 19 Feb 1996 8:13:44 EST
Subject:  Re: Design help
John Long asked:

> 	Now on to my questions;  Can anyone out there help me with getting =
> started DM'ing a new SJ campagain?  When I played before, I very rarely =
> DM'd and then that was usually one of the pre-made adventures!  Any help =
> at all in getting started/restarted in the realms of wildspace would be =
> greatly appreciated. Especially tips on design, DM'ing, continuity, etc. =
> As I said this campagain design is a new animal to me and my new group =
> of players have less exp than me!
	I can certainly try to help you out - I've DM'ed three SPJ games
(well, more like two and a half).

	The one thing to keep in mind is the key concept to the setting -
fantasy space travel.  Therefore, you will have to detail at least two crystal
sphere.  Otherwise, unless you make the starting sphere really interesting,
the game will lose something if all the characters are doing is sailing from
planet to planet (might as well just stay on one planet and use normal sailing
vessels to go from land to land).
	Another important thing to keep in mind is the characters' motivations
(although this is good advice for any game).  You need to completely understand
why these players are in space (or if starting as groundlings, why are they
going to stay there).  These goals should give you about one plot per PC.
An example of this is from my last game:  one of the PCs was a renegade mind
flayer (ran as a Psionic Class) who was seeking an artifact (a psionic magnet/
amplifier that both his former and a rival clan were seeking).  Thus, this
character was always looking for leads to this item, as well as needing the
other PCs as a bodyguard unit to protect him from the bounty hunters that were
sure to be looking for him.  (Later on, I merged his quest with events in
the Second Unhuman War - seems the PC's object doubled as the key to a
primary Witchlight Marauder.  Also, as another side note, a player who joined
the game late was one of the bounty hunters seeking the mind flayer.  She
had change of heart when she found out what a whole clan of mind flayers could
do if they got the item.)

	In terms of what you need to have as places, I would recommend a fairly
well detailed base of operations (be it a city on a planet, or a starbase like
the Rock of Bral) as well as several places of note in the same sphere.
This should be enough to get the game rolling, get the PCs some experience,
and give you time to come up with some other ideas.  Oh yes, you should also
be prepared to impart a fair amount of detail and personality to the NPC crew
of whatever ship the PCs are going to be on.
	This is because of the time factor.  Since space travel normal takes
a lot of time (in Greyspace it takes 160 days just to get from the center to
the shell), the PCs are going to have the chance to get to know these people.
Thus, for the sake of role-playing, you had better be prepared to let the
characters interact with the crew.  Now, they don't have to fully fleshed out
NPCs, but at least give each one a name, a description, and at least one
dominant and identifying trait.  Even stereotypes are fine:  eg.  the lookout
is named Hawkeye and is a good shot with a bow.  This way, the PCs might
actually care if they start to take crew losses in combat.

	The rest of what you have to detail depends on what sort of game you
are going to be running (see your own personal style and the character
motivations).  If the PCs want to talk to races, create a lot of political
plots and trading posts.  If they just want to meet strange new races and then
kill them and take their stuff, make numerous combat encounters and planet-
side dungeons.  It might be a good idea to make one big, huge, unifying
background plot for the players to adventure against.  (It will serve to give
the game a sense of continuity and history, as well as provide a constant
source of adventure ideas.)

	If you have any more specific questions, please send me e-mail and
ask them.  I'm always willing to discuss gaming style and ideas.

Ken Lipka, Project Engineer                              klipka@????.com
Any resemblance between the above views and those of my employer, my terminal,
or the view out my window are purely coincidental. Any resemblance between the
above and my own views is non-deterministic. The question of existence of
views in the absence of anyone to hold them is left as an exercise for the
reader.  The question of the existence of the reader is left as an exercise
for the second god coefficient. (A discussion of non-orthogonal, non-integral
polytheism is beyond the scope of this disclaimer.)

Previous Message: Campagain Design Help
Next Message: Re: Campagain Design Help
Month Index: February, 1996

SubjectFromDate (UTC)
Design help    John J. Long    17 Feb 1996 18:44:04
Re: Design help    Ken Lipka    19 Feb 1996 13:13:44

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