Considering Setting

Anonymous's picture
August 30, 2007 - 10:33pm
I try to encourage providing a unique atmosphere when it comes to reusing a trope. That being the case, I would like to make some suggestions in that regard, that could give a unique flavor to this project:

1) I recommend using professions and occupations to advantage instead of classing. A profession says "fighter", but the occupation says "Ranger", "Knight" or "Paladin". A profession says "Magician", but an occupation says "Wizard", "Conjurer" or "Court Magician". A profession says "Cleric", but an occupation says "Healer", "Monk" or "Priest". You can perhaps change the name of professions to classes, but changing the system to accommodated D&D-style classing would not be recommended. I strongly advise against it (but you are the manager).

2) I recommend creating new races to replace old tropes. For crying out loud, keep the Beholder beast and the Troll OUT. I hate them and am tired of seeing them in every nook and cranny of every roleplaying universe. There's a reason why they aren't popular in most fantasy novels: they suck and don't make for an interesting story. They're for uncreative dungeon crawling. At any rate, the Zethra are a good replacement for Beholder beasts. The Sathar and S'sessu make for a good orkine and half-orc replacement (without, of course, having to explain to kids about how half-orcs are created). The Ul-mor would be a great race for the environment, along with their beasts. The Saurians would be just right for such an environment. Also, the dragon from Captive Planet would be a good dragon for the environment, but you'll have to stat it out. There are plenty of races in all the modules and magazines to use without having to bring in the tired stuff. There's a reason why TSR created Star Frontiers, and it has to do with making a conscious deviation from D&D.

3) Make sailing an integrated part of the game, like spaceships in SF.

SmootRK's picture
September 1, 2007 - 8:10am
On your point #3, I think that the sailing idea is super!  It makes so much sense, and immediately meshes things to the explorer/new frontier mentality of original Star Frontiers.  Following up on that concept, I envision a sort of oceana type world... not exactly like Water World (Costner movie) but something where the land masses are small and the majority of the world is ocean/seas.  Lots of cool pirate type ideas can be inserted to this, but I would not want to necessarily make this 'Pirate Frontiers'.

Now maybe a re-designed campaign map can be envisioned... a coastline full of island/land masses (star chart)... with a large continent off to the side, largely devoid of character-races... the land-unexplored.  Civilization (as the characters understand), mostly centered in these island masses.  (and Sathar (earthworm like beings they are, controlling the 'mainland' areas... but this is Referee material).

As to point #2, agreed as well; not to mention many critters are not 'open content' (Beholders, Ilithid, etc).  I agree that we should either create or at the very least, re-imagine any archetypes.

Deviating from this, I do want to create the entire rule-set as not being too specific to setting... so that individual Referrees can use the whole Rules-Mod however they want.  Some might want Ancient Times sans any magic, for purpose of Time-Travel in association with an otherwise normal Star Frontiers game.  Others might want to create their own setting, departing from Star Frontiers cannon altogether.  Others might want to emulate their standard D&D type game with alternate rules.  For all these reasons, I would rather create the Rules as one aspect of the project, and the 'sample campaign/setting material' as another aspect.  Despite the separation concept, I do agree that I don't want to directly copy any material that would appear in the document.  OK to look for role-inpspiration or archetypical monster niches, but not to simply port the material... that will be for individual Referees to decide if they want to copy material that closely.

As to point #1, I suppose I am not too much of a fan of Zeb's races.  I would love to see a re-imagined Ifshnit illo.  I don't mind adding any of the races into the setting.  I proposed adding a dwarf-like race, or fey race, or brute race, only as a set of 'alternates' to the Star Frontiers cannon material (much to the reason stated above - for making setting independant rules, then setting/campaign as a parallell aspect).
<insert witty comment here>

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
September 1, 2007 - 12:45pm
SmootRK wrote:
As to point #1, I suppose I am not too much of a fan of Zeb's races. I would love to see a re-imagined Ifshnit illo. I don't mind adding any of the races into the setting. I proposed adding a dwarf-like race, or fey race, or brute race, only as a set of 'alternates' to the Star Frontiers cannon material (much to the reason stated above - for making setting independant rules, then setting/campaign as a parallell aspect).
Actually, that's still point #2. Wink

SmootRK's picture
September 1, 2007 - 1:06pm
You are right!  As to classes, I don't actually want 'any' classes, just like standard Star Frontiers games.  Characters will be free to choose any Skill or "spell skill" as I call them, to mix and match any way they want.  Different PSAs will just define the XP costs, although I can imagine some skills only being allowed by actual persons with certain PSA chosen (like the way the current Mentalist set works, but less restrictive).

That being said, I do see parallels between what is called Primary Skill Areas and the classic 'class' separations.  I like lots of freedom in skill selection, which is one of the reasons I both love Star Frontiers XP system of advancement, and get frustrated by the skill system at the same time (grouped too much). 

Btw, it is not mentioned too much in the document, but I envision the Advanced Skills as ways to emulate certain archetypes.  For instance, certain Military(martial) skills mixed with certain Divine Skills (spell skills or abilities to be a little more specific) and PooF! you get access to a suite of Paladin style skills.  This would work like the current Spaceship skills of Knight Hawks rules.  Certain Military skills mixed with certain Nature skills opens up access to a Ranger Advanced Skill suite.  Certain Roguish skills (lack of better name for that PSA) added to certain Marital skills opens up Assassin advanced skill... etc.  lots of interesting combinations can be created.

I have explained to Bill that I have not been working on much material lately... wife is in advanced stage of pregnancy due really any time.  I will announce when the event occurs, but likely it will be a while still until I get routines with a newborn down so that I can do more creative works. 
<insert witty comment here>

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
September 8, 2007 - 5:53am
Well, the advanced skills in KH have prerequisites that require you to be so many levels in the other skills. A person can be a ranger by mixing the Environmental Biosocial skill with a Military skill. However, for more skill flexibility, go for Zeb's. There, you can have individual skills (called subskills in AD) that you have more freedom in. The professions are nothing more than career directions. You get to pick an choose your skills with total freedom. Of course, you could just eleminate professions/PSA's altogether, or at least the cost differences between them. I'm currently blending the AD and ZG skills together for the 25th Anniversary Rulebook so that a person, if they choose (the book is about choices; it needs more polishing, but I think you'll get the idea), could use the AD Biosocial and Technological PSA skill sets as a means of getting a core suite of skills that is inexpensive to develop, and then use the ZG skills to augment them for all the freedom you want. Of course, in a fantasy setting, the PSA's could be Military, Courtier and Magician or I like the Fighter, Cleric (or Healer), Magician and Explorer divisions.

Example: You have 20 skill points to spend. To create a Galan Brad Warden character (From Dragonslayer) choose the Magician PSA and profession (or Class) with the Wizard skill set, giving you around 8 or so skills that raise in level together. This costs you 4 skill points, leaving you 16 points for your profession and skills. You spend 10 on  on your Profession's skills, leaving you 6 skill points to spend on any skills you like. As your second skill set, you spend 4 points from your secondary set to choose another Magician PSA/Profession skill set, Conjurer, leaving you 6 secondary points. (It's in his PSA, so costs less.) Now you spend the remaining 2 profession points to acquire the Weapons: Spear skill for 2 points. So you have a low 1st level proficiency in around 16 spells and can fight with a spear. Let's say Galan becomes stronger and renames himself for posterity's sake to Gandolf the Grey. He's now at the maximum of 6 levels for the 16 or so PSA spells and 8 levels for the 11 individual skills, not to mention has gained more spells over time, including the Weapons: Sword skill and can still gain yet more, which is why he could take out a massive ultra-powerful demon and come back as the white wizard.

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
September 1, 2007 - 3:31pm
By the way, by having a choice to use the AD PSA's or the ZG Professions or a mix of both, Referees have the flexibility of restricting power a lot or just a little, or unleashing it altogether.

CleanCutRogue's picture
September 1, 2007 - 9:58pm
#3: Yes, definitely makes sense.  I like the idea that sailing could replace star-ships as the long-distance traveling option.  That makes our space pirates still part of the game... except they'll just be normal pirates.  :-)  I could see a re-imagined Crash On Volturnus adventure on a galley called the Serena Dawn, taken by pirates, and the crew has to jettison into the sea on rickety lifeboats before it goes down... washing ashore on the island of Volturnus!
3. We wear sungoggles during the day. Not because the sun affects our vision, but when you're cool like us the sun shines all the time.

-top 11 reasons to be a Yazirian, ShadowShack

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
September 3, 2007 - 4:35am
In the way of number 2, I was thinking about the way to create new creatures for the setting.

Consider what the superstitions and legends the Frontier would have, particularly on a world where all these races interact. You could come up with some really interesting creatures that way. What would a primitive Vrusk be afraid of? What stories would a Yazirian tell in candlelight to other warrior Yazirians, especially considering their religious bent? Humans are in fear of Vrusk, but what really spooks them about the Vrusk beside their bug-like appearance? Would Dralasites have a fear of anything particular ? (That one throws me.) What does a walking plant like Osakar fear? What night terrors does a capitalist dwarf like an Ifshnit have? Does a Sathar or S'sessu whisper about forbidden names?

You could come up with some interesting concepts off of these.

Anonymous's picture
Corjay (not verified)
September 8, 2007 - 5:54am
I updated the skills example below. It works the way it should now.