Friday, June 7, 2013

Why I Began the Odyssey

In my younger and more ignorant years I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I was drawn to the infinite frontier of space, the hope of discovery, and the mystery of the unknown. Later, when I learned that astronauts don't go much further than orbit to fix telescopes, I dreamed of becoming someone slightly more important. And yet, there was still space. My childhood desires turned me into a sci-fi fanatic. Plastic space marines dot my room. Warhammer 40k and Starcraft books line my shelves. Serenity remains my favorite movie. The Borg remain my favorite villains of all time.

My friend David Oswald got me into Dungeons and Dragons about two years ago. This is his blog: Randemise I fell in love with the game. Inspired by his creative dungeons, last year I crafted my own one-shot adventure set on a spaceship controlled by orcs. The premise was that the characters had been captured by slavers, and that by sheer luck the slave ship was attacked by mysterious crystal-based aliens. In the fashion of the Elder Scrolls, the prisoners scrounged for weapons, armor, and gadgets as they battled through the ship. The game ended with the players inside the bridge as the ship crashed towards a mysterious  red planet. The whole thing took two sessions, and everyone seemed to have fun.

Last month David informed me that he had purchased a copy of Mongoose Publishing's Traveller RPG. He wanted me to run a game for our group. Our first game (the summery of which will be posted later) was fantastic. Although we had seven people (of various RPG experience) running characters and absolutely no practice with the system, the game ran much smoother than expected. By the end of it the crew had become a bad-ass group of space criminals. And so our summer space campaign began.

Some notes:

1. I created a homebrew setting. I did not know about the standard game setting, "The Third Imperium" when I ran my first game. I created my own universe and intend to keep it.

2. I modified some rules. By far the biggest change came from a misinterpretation of a rule that I looked up online before the first game. I use a hex map where each hex represents one parsec. Unlike the traditional Traveller RPG, however, there is no limit to the distance one jumps. What this means: I have a huge map, spanning dozens of parsecs. The players can travel anywhere in a week. The kicker: while they are in "Jump Space", random and mysterious things can happen. They could encounter aliens. Or a travelling trader. Or a ship from a past age. It's all up to the die. Unless I'm feeling creative.

3. My players like to be evil. If you don't want to read stories about kids sitting around a table pretending to grow space-drugs and murder rival gangsters, please stop reading. As a bit of added irony, all of the players' ships and robots are references to the Bible. Their ship is called "Providence".

4. Most of the group is going to different colleges this fall. The game will probably end with summer. If I continue running games at UF, I'll let you guys know.

5. This blog is mostly to record the events of the players so that they can later remember the fun that they had this summer. Occasionally I will add in thoughts on the Traveller system or on DMing. For any new DMs reading my blog, my stuff is fair game.

Your results may vary.

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