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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Kester Pelagius on March 24, 2003, 01:11:35 PM



Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on March 24, 2003, 01:11:35 PM
Greetings All,

Meant to post something about this awhile ago. . .

So I am working on something, like most of us here are, and was wondering what your thoughts might be.  I mentioned this game (vaguely and ever so briefly) over in RPG Theory.  But here's the basic overview:


What the game is:  Adventures in Ptolemaic Space

What the game isn't: Science Fiction

What?


Crystal Sphere's direct spiritual predecessor is Spelljammer, and I plainly mention the fact in the work I have done.  Too, many of the world mechanics and 'idea' conventions are similar.  Similar, but rooted in real world descriptions of them.  In fact you could probably use it with your Spelljammer campaign.  But it's not Spelljammer, nor is it even Space 1889 or Skyrealms of Jorune.  (Yeah, yeah.  I'm old.  It's not Dragonstar, either, ya whippursnappers!  *smirks*)

I know what you're probably thinking:  'What?  You're just redoing Spelljammer, what's the point?'

That's not exactly it either.

Crystal Spheres takes the basic cosmological elements and runs with them.  Still, as I am presenting it, the unkind and cynical could probably call it a 'homebrew fan-boy' game, not that anyone here at The Forge would say such a thing.  But, based on the premise I've thus far described, what do you think?

Oh, the rules, they are minimal.  A 'rules lite' system strictly using six-siders.  IOW: you can raid your favorite board game for dice to play the game.

Also I am working in a tactical 'table top' element for space travel and ship-to-ship, or rather I am trying to figure out how to do that in under two or so pages.

That said, unless you think the game idea uber sucks and is the penultimate worst game idea you have ever laid eyes on, what do you think?


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: szilard on March 24, 2003, 01:49:09 PM
Saying that the cosmology is kinda like Spelljammer doesn't give us much to go on. What are the characters like? What do they do? Why do they do it?

Stuart


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on March 24, 2003, 02:27:06 PM
What Stuart said.

My game, Fingers on the Firmament, is also "Adventures in Ptolemaic Space," but it doesn't sound anything like Crystal Spheres or Spelljammer (the latter of which I know nothing about).  Fingers is about people exploring the mind-bogglingly big, empty void that is the universe, through a tactile relationship with the stars, and trying not to go insane with loneliness, starblindness, or suicidal feelings of insignificance.  What's Crystal Spheres about?


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Valamir on March 24, 2003, 03:24:28 PM
Heh, Jonathan's looking for a way to win Andie's newest category the coveted "Most Depressing Game of the Year" award :-)


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: dalek_of_god on March 24, 2003, 04:21:20 PM
I wonder if you've read Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle. It's a (rather brief) novel that begins with the premise that Aristotelian science and cosmology is actually real. Ancient Chinese alchemical theories involving Chi are also real, and there is a sort of cold war between East and West. I found myself drawn into this alternate universe, and I can easily imagine using it as a RPG setting. This may be due to how pervasive Garfinkle makes the effects of the alternate reality. Technologies work according to elemental or chi based methods. For example, the "ship" in Celestial Matters is basically a large chunk of moon rock which is propelled through the natural circular motion of heavenly bodies postulated by Aristotle. Of course, the existance of a cold war analogue and analogues of other real world events provides a lot of gaming potential as well.

I think that a Ptolomaic universe RPG is a decent idea, so long as it provides sufficient incentive for a game. That said, I haven't had any exposure to Spelljammer, so I may not have the right idea about what you're trying to do.


Dwayne


Title: Hmm... weirdness.
Post by: Kester Pelagius on March 24, 2003, 04:33:17 PM
Greetings,

I was working on this post online earlier and, apparently, something happened with The Forge.  Not sure what, but  luckily I was able to go back and save the content of the post.  Apologies for the delay in responding.  (Heh, site is fine now.  So it wasnít really all that long.  *shrug*)  That said, in regards to szilard, Jonathan Walton, and Valamir's questions:


Crystal Spheres presents a number of Sentient Races, from send-ups of old Spelljammer races, their DNA twisted and distorted, to a few exotic races liberally borrowed from "UFO Folklore".  The setting allows for a diverse number and types of adventure, from exploring, swashbuckling, to engaging in full fledged trade wars.

The 'cosmology' is organized in such a way that there are "Crystal Spheres" containing solar systems, systems that are more or less based upon the Ptolemaic model.  Think of the the Crystal Sphere as a giant crystalline shell located roughly in the same position that a Ort cloud would be.  Access to it, and through it into the 'great beyond', is purely by advanced magical means.

For the 'great beyond' I have retained the term 'phlogiston' since there is less to explain with it that if I used the alternatives like Pleroma, though it is functionally a version of 'hyperspace' wherein bob other Crystal Spheres, each being a 'bubble reality' accessble, again, only by advanced magical means.

Essentially each Crystal Sphere represents an different reality centered upon a local star system.

Some of the races presented will be para-dimensional, meaning they are able to sort of phase in and out of a reality by means unknown.  (IOW: These will represent the main malavolent races, or are they just misunderstood?)  The reasons for adventuring will be the same as why you adventure in any RPG, myriad and based upon what the GM and players have decided they want to do for the evening.

At present the starter setting for Crystal Spheres contains six thumb nailed spheres, one port of interest in the 'Flow' (still a good term), though the map I've created actually shows seventeen spheres.  The point being to provide a 'starter kit' that provides primer material for a GM to set up a campaign, or merely use the material to run a few adventures to get a feel for the setting and then adapt the game to suit.  Also, for those curious about obtaining material for use with the game, Iíve written the basic game intro in such a way that, if you are familiar with Spelljammer, or games like it, Crystal Spheres should feel like a distant cousin.  Also I provide links to resources easily found online that can be easily adapted for use with Crystal Spheres.

But that says very little about the characters, does it?

At present there are a few Ďspecialí character archetypes available.  In all likelihood these will be templates, in so far as you will pick a archetype, apply the modifiers to your base scores, and that will be the bulk of character generation.  So it will be: roll scores (random) -> choose a race and add modifiers, if any ->choose a archetype/template and add modifiers/skills -> begin adventuring.


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on March 24, 2003, 04:39:10 PM
Greetings dalek_of_god,

I see you continue to elude the C.I.A.*, the Timelord council can't be pleased.  ;)

Quote from: dalek_of_god
I think that a Ptolomaic universe RPG is a decent idea, so long as it provides sufficient incentive for a game. That said, I haven't had any exposure to Spelljammer, so I may not have the right idea about what you're trying to do.


Not a bad start.

As I envision it every 'sphere' will literally contain it's own reality.  Thus one could find anything from heliocentric to geocentric solar system, with vimanas and flying chariots floating in ether, or just about anything else you can imagine.

Though, for the time being, I am restricting myself to established cosmological models.




Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


* Celestial Interventian Agency


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on March 25, 2003, 08:19:08 AM
Well, in answering your original question, "What do you think?"... I have to say that the game concept doesn't excite me terribly much, because it seems to be a a retread of things we've seen before.  Not so much in your setting, which sounds interesting and original, but in the type of play that you seem to be anticipating.  The majority of rpgs that are out there are simply different settings, with rules that all encourage similar types of play.  When you said, "The reasons for adventuring will be the same as why you adventure in any RPG," that kind of put me off.  Obviously, all rpgs (especially indie ones) don't use the same reasons for adventuring (or even have "adventuring" be the purpose of play) so it sounds like you mean that Crystal Sphere's won't offer anything that I couldn't find somewhere else.

Now, that might not be the case.  Of, if it is the case, that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with that.  A new and interesting setting can be its own reward.  I was just hoping that you'd offer interesting possibilities for play as well.


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 25, 2003, 09:28:58 AM
I agree with Jonathan. I'm seeing a somewhat unique universe, and a premise to explore it generally. Not too compelling. Why shouldn't I play Blue Planet instead? In that, at least I'm aware that I'll be embroiled in political machinations.

You're trusting to the setting's special features to attract people along with a promise that the setting with be handled by the system better than D&D does it.

How is this game not Sci-fi? It's "speculative fiction" at the very least. Denying that it's sci-fi is tantamount to admitting that it is, but you want it to be something more unique than what sci-fi would imply. Well instead of telling us what it's not, tell us what it is.

Mike


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on March 25, 2003, 10:38:49 AM
Greetings Jonathan,

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Now, that might not be the case.  Of, if it is the case, that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with that.  A new and interesting setting can be its own reward.  I was just hoping that you'd offer interesting possibilities for play as well.


When I say that play will be just like in any other RPG, I am stressing the fact that, quite literally, Crystal Spheres can provide the same impetus for play as any RPG.

This means you can have gangsters, modern firearms, space aliens, brain leeches, extradimensional time bandits, anything that you can find in any other RPG.

How?

The premise for Crystal Spheres is that each Sphere is literally a 'bubble reality', thus you can start in, say, a world based on Gamma World, Ironclaw, Ar Magica, or a favorite fantasy novel.

However there will be a stock setting.  That setting may sound a bit bland as described, then again I am trying to design it to be as familiar and easy to use as possible so that even Game Masters new to RPGs can run it.  That means using standard tropes.

What I am ultimatly aiming for is a game witht he feel of a plug-and-play set of cosmological rules that you can use with any game, while being self contained in and of itself.  Something that many of the spiritual predecessors of Crystal Spheres was not.

Too, keep in mind that what I am discussing is essentially the core rules and stock setting, not adventures, and much remains to be detailed.


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: szilard on March 25, 2003, 11:04:12 AM
Quote from: Kester Pelagius
When I say that play will be just like in any other RPG, I am stressing the fact that, quite literally, Crystal Spheres can provide the same impetus for play as any RPG.

This means you can have gangsters, modern firearms, space aliens, brain leeches, extradimensional time bandits, anything that you can find in any other RPG.


To me, there is a big disconnect between the two paragraphs above.

"Gangsters, modern firearms, space aliens, brain leeches," and whatever do not provide an impetus for play. They don't tell me what the game is about. They are elements of setting and color. I can run a game that is about, say, the responsibility of power in with any, all, or none of those.

You still haven't answered my questions:

What do the characters do and why do they do it?

If the answer is, "Ummm... they, ummm, adventure because they each have some reason to and they are thrown together by agreement or circumstance," then I'm not really interested.

Why?

"They adventure" is really an insufficient answer to me. This generally means that they wander around and things happen to them. Sometimes I might be interested in this sort of game as a one-shot or if the GM is really, truly amazing, but mostly I am over it.

Moreover, I'm much more interested these days with games that explore a theme or have some focus. You have a potentially neat setting. If you wanted, your game could easily have a theme centering on (for example) Exploration and the price of knowledge. Characters, whether due to a deep inner curiousity or necessity could be explorers of the celestial void, charged (whether by themselves or another) to seek out the mysteries of the ether. The big difference here is a shared motivation/mission and the ability to choose whether or not to pursue it. There may well be Things Not Meant To Be Known in celestial space. Do you pursue knowledge of them as your mission demands? If so, at what cost? If not, at what cost?

Stuart


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on March 25, 2003, 11:06:13 AM
Greetings Mike,

Quote from: Mike Holmes
I agree with Jonathan. I'm seeing a somewhat unique universe, and a premise to explore it generally. Not too compelling. Why shouldn't I play Blue Planet instead? In that, at least I'm aware that I'll be embroiled in political machinations.


No reason at all, if you really enjoy that game's setting and milieu.  (See my above post.)

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You're trusting to the setting's special features to attract people along with a promise that the setting with be handled by the system better than D&D does it.


First, it's nothing at all like Spelljammer, and yet it is.  Only because Spelljammer liberally borrowed from various cosmological models.  As do I.  That's the conundrum, I'm using many of the same cosmological concepts, however I am detailing them as they were originally presented.

True, mostly I am using Ptolemaic and Medieval models to explain things since they are the most familiar.  Then there's a lot out there to consider.

For instance: I've not yet decided how to best approach the "shells within shells" model, yet feel it needs inclusion.  Problem is that that model is essentially identical to one of the 19th century "Hollow Earth" models.  And I want to use the Hollow Earth premise, yet don't want to confuse the reader.  Which is part of what my question (vague as it was) over in RPG Theory was all about.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
How is this game not Sci-fi? It's "speculative fiction" at the very least.[/quite]

Speculative Fiction, yes.  Science Fiction, no.

To be science fiction the world being detailed by the author would have to rely on current scientific trends, or a projection of possibly future trends.  I am relying on past scientific models.  Ergo: it's pure fantasy.  Moorcock did a series of books in which he postulates an alternate history in which Zeppelins took the place of airplanes.  Very good speculative "science" fiction.  I am attempting to detail a multiverse that uses magic to propel sky ships and vimanas.

There is a difference between speculative ficiton and science fiction.  A novel can be speculative fiction without any hard science fact (or fiction) elements in it.  To say that Crystal Spheres is science fiction would be tantamount to building an expectation in the reader that says the game will rely upon the standard science fiction tropes, which to most translated into forms of 'technology', and other color that we have come to expect in science fiction novels.

Take the Dragonriders of Pern.  Reading it you can call it "science fantasy" because their are starships and telescopes mixed in with the dragons.  AND (very important) the dragons were genetically engineered!  Genetics.  A modern science.

In pure fantasy there is no genetic engineering.  Rather there is alchemy, golems, imps in a bottle, and the like.


Quote from: Mike Holmes
Denying that it's sci-fi is tantamount to admitting that it is, but you want it to be something more unique than what sci-fi would imply. Well instead of telling us what it's not, tell us what it is.


If I had to describe it with standard genre labels I'd say that Crystal Spheres is a stiff shot of Historical melodrama, two jiggers of Heroic Fantasy, a twist of Space Opera, and a tangy dash of folkore and myth all liberally spiced with a smooth smokey mystic flavoring.

Now who wouldn't want some of that?   ;)


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 25, 2003, 11:50:34 AM
See what we were missing previously is the detail that the PCs will be involved in the dealings of different worlds that may represent different genres.

I had a vision of PCs sailing from one world to another all aware of each other.

That's an important question you've not answered. Are the inhabitants aware of the nature of the universe?

Who makes the ships? Who sails the ships? Are the PCs likely to be amongst them? Or will the muliverse element be mostly a background thing? How often are journeys made? How difficult are they? Do the reality principles of one shpere bleed over into other spheres? That is, do guns work in all spheres? Or just some? Magic?

See, in Multiverser, you are, well, you (the character is just like the player to start), going from universe to universe. That's pretty grabby. In TORG, your characters are fighting the effect that's causing all these universes to come together. In Rifts your characters are trying to promote your own realities agenda over the others (mostly). In Nine Worlds the characters create the realities.

What are the characters in your game doing? Why should I care, and want to play? Anything? I'll play one of the above games which seem to have better defined PC goals.

Sure I can make my own goals. But then these games will suffice as well. Or I can just use GURPS or FUDGE or something generic. What about your game makes it superior to any of these? The simple cross-breeding of the Multiverse concept with the Ptolmaic Spheres thing just isn't going to do it all by itself.

If you were to do a tremendous job on the setting, then maybe. But how can we know that heading into design? I think you ought to work on it a bit more, and see what does develop in terms of a unique gaming experience.

Mike


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Jonathan Walton on March 25, 2003, 12:00:56 PM
Quote from: Kester Pelagius
When I say that play will be just like in any other RPG, I am stressing the fact that, quite literally, Crystal Spheres can provide the same impetus for play as any RPG.


Okay, it sounds like you're on the edge of the Please-Everyone Trap.  It seems like you want to put your setting out there and let people use it to play whatever kind of game they prefer.  If they like Space Opera, they can play Space Opera games.  If they like Gunfights & Gangsters, they can play a Gunfights & Gangsters game.

To me, this makes your game ignorable.  There are plenty of games and settings out there that I could use to play "whatever I want."  If you give me the setting and make me, the GM, go to the trouble of coming up with a plot and reasons why the characters are adventuring together, you're not doing too much to help me out.  If you give me a tone and direction and a specific type of play that you're selling, it might be my thing or it might not, but your game wouldn't be ignorable.  Even if I didn't like X, I could tell my friend, "Oh, yeah, that game Crystal Spheres is a great example of X-style roleplaying.  If you like that, you should really pick it up."  And if its not my thing right now, there may come some day where I say, "Gee, I haven't played a good X game in a while.  Maybe I should pull out Crystal Spheres and find some people to play with."

So my vote would be to narrow your focus.  Go for a specific type of play instead of making your game so broad that everything blurs into an uninteresting grey.  Commercial settings produced by major publishers tend to be general because they have a ton of people with different play styles to support (whether this is really necessary is a completely different issue).  With indie games, we have a small enough audience that we can afford to be focused.

Edit: Cross-posted with Mike, who said some pretty similar things.  I agree with him completely.


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on March 25, 2003, 12:10:07 PM
I, too, don't think it's a good idea to make this a cross-genre game, for a different reason.

You have this great Ptolemaic world.  Why waste this great bit of color on yet another generalist game?  If the thing is going to be called Crystal Spheres, then it dang well better do something interesting and cool with those crystal spheres; the name of the game should tell me what's going on.  Basically, I think you're doing the color a disservice by setting it into the background.


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: dalek_of_god on March 25, 2003, 12:12:40 PM
It looks to me like the concepts for Crystal Spheres place some heavy burdens on the game's rule structure. I'm starting to see this as a sort of magical version of the original Star Trek, with a focus on exploring the unknown (and the unexpected). In each game the PCs will encounter yet another completely unique world with little connection to what they have encountered before. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it means that the rules have to allow for unique and interesting worlds to be created in a very limited amount of time. I think you may be focusing too much on the Ptolomaic and Medieval cosmologies. The cosmologies seem to be mainly MacGuffins to get the PCs from one crystal sphere to another. The bulk of the game would have to be in learning about the physics and inhabitants of this week's solar system.

I've had an idea for a possible game involving extremely divergent alternate realities, and the biggest problem that occurs to me is keeping the players interested in yet another new thing. I'm considering ways of rotating the GM duties so that each player gets an opportunity to create a mini-universe for their characters to play in. I think this could work with the Star Trek like feel I'm getting from Crystal Spheres. After all, Spock didn't have a big part in every episode, and some characters only appeared sporadically. It should be easy to change GMs. Unfortunately the GM role usually resides outside the rules, and I haven't figured out a good way to move it inside so that changing GMs is both explicitly part of the game and actually interesting.

That's just some thoughts I had. Most of it relates more to what I've been doing than to Crystal Spheres, but it might help a little. The main point is that you need to figure out a general theme for the game (as Mike and szilard have pointed out). The theme needs to be something that the Ptolomaic space backdrop can help tie together. The Star Trek thing is just the first one to cross my mind.


Dwayne


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 25, 2003, 01:31:29 PM
I could buy the "intrepid ship of explorers" idea, with worlds as episodes. Now that would be unique and compelling.

Mike


Title: Trying to answer everyone at once...
Post by: Kester Pelagius on March 26, 2003, 12:06:03 AM
Greetings All,

I tried to pick what I thought were the most salient points and respond to them.  If I missed anything you feel was important, and didn't address it somehow below, I apologize.  As always any grammatical or syntax errors are purely due to gremlins living in my machine.  ;)

That said. . .

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Okay, it sounds like you're on the edge of the Please-Everyone Trap. It seems like you want to put your setting out there and let people use it to play whatever kind of game they prefer. If they like Space Opera, they can play Space Opera games. If they like Gunfights & Gangsters, they can play a Gunfights & Gangsters game.


Not at all.  (Least I don't think I was, was I?)  I was generalizing the concept in a effort to distill the premise into a snapshot of game possibilities and potential.

Sort of a...

Kester puts on his bombastus cap and begins to ramble, "Think of each "sphere" as a bubble reality.  Within each of those crystal spheres is contained an entire solar system, mostly ones that are going to be reflective of our own world in some way.  True, I am targeting the settng strictly as heroic, low tech, high magic fantasy.  But, keeping with the premise, that means that the potential exists for any world to be within one of those spheres."

..kind of thing.


Quote from: Jonathan Walton
To me, this makes your game ignorable. There are plenty of games and settings out there that I could use to play "whatever I want." If you give me the setting and make me, the GM, go to the trouble of coming up with a plot and reasons why the characters are adventuring together, you're not doing too much to help me out.


Sorry hear you feel that.  I realise everyone has their own GMing style, if you feel I've narrowed it too far as explained let me know on which points and I'll try to fix it.

I know, some mayprefer to use prefab modules and stock settings, I never really did.  Least not without adapting them.  Crystal Spheres may not be right for such a GMs gaming style as I am writing it assuming a GM who is going to know the likes and dislikes of their group better and want to set up a game to suit them.

As it stands that means what I have is s a 'kit' of primers, a few possible 'sample' starters to kick start a campaign, and a brief sample module.   If you feel this approach is dated then please, by all means, let me know.  Don't want to write something that no one will want to play because it's basic assumptions are rooted in a approach to play that is no longer relevent.

Thanks.


Quote from: dalek_of_god
It looks to me like the concepts for Crystal Spheres place some heavy burdens on the game's rule structure. I'm starting to see this as a sort of magical version of the original Star Trek, with a focus on exploring the unknown (and the unexpected). In each game the PCs will encounter yet another completely unique world with little connection to what they have encountered before.


Indeed, that is very well how a campaign of Crystal Spheres could (and is likely) to start.

As I mentioned above I plan *knock on wood* to provide mostly plot seeds.  Thus whether the players start out with 100% info of the setting or 0% is left up to the group/GM to decide.  (After reading the rules of course.)  I'd like the group to begin by asking themselves what sort of game they want to play and generate characters accordingly.

At least that is how I envision it at the moment.

How's it sound so far?


Quote from: four willows weeping
You have this great Ptolemaic world. Why waste this great bit of color on yet another generalist game? If the thing is going to be called Crystal Spheres, then it dang well better do something interesting and cool with those crystal spheres; the name of the game should tell me what's going on. Basically, I think you're doing the color a disservice by setting it into the background.


How have I done that?



Quote from: Mike Holmes
That's an important question you've not answered. Are the inhabitants aware of the nature of the universe?


Yes and no.  The inhabitants will be aware of the nature of their local solar system; whether it is heliocentric, geocentric or some exotic other.  That doesn't mean that they will know everything about the local planets, indeed there should be ample opportunities for exploring the local system.

But knowledge of what lays beyond the crystal shell?  That will be something that only true exploration can elaborate and detail, at least from the perspective of the players.


Quote from: Mike Holmes
Who makes the ships? Who sails the ships? Are the PCs likely to be amongst them? Or will the muliverse element be mostly a background thing? How often are journeys made? How difficult are they? Do the reality principles of one shpere bleed over into other spheres? That is, do guns work in all spheres? Or just some? Magic?


Answered in order of above.  (I hope.)

Various sentient races.  Will depend upon the ship type.  It isn't beyond the realm of possibility.  Not sure I get what you are asking here.  Will depend on how close the nearest sphere is and the time involved to reach it.  Not very.  Each sphere is self-contained and works according to its own unique laws, in principle.  Bombards and primitive firearms, no bored canon or rifles.  Not every sphere will have native population (planetary) who have developed such things, so just some in that regard.  Goodness me yes, tons of magic, magic is what makes ships goooooooo!


Quote from: Mike Holmes
I could buy the "intrepid ship of explorers" idea, with worlds as episodes. Now that would be unique and compelling.


There is no reason you couldn't run a game this way, generally speaking.  

Keep in mind that my main presumption is that most GMs will want to adapt their 'house' campaign for use with Crystal Spheres, which isn't to say that there will be no native setting.  In fact I have one in place already.  It involves a series of spheres in a trade union, ancient ruins spread out on various planets in various spheres, saurian nemesis races, weird gray philosophers who trave the Spheres in shield shaped craft, and.. .. ..  No, I've said to much already.  You'll just have to wait till I have a proper PDF realy for playtesting then... then... why then you are all welcome to a copy if you want one.

Until then I'll keep your advice and questions in mind as I hamme at what I have so far.

Great input one and all!




Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Re: Trying to answer everyone at once...
Post by: Jonathan Walton on March 26, 2003, 07:14:34 AM
Quote from: Kester Pelagius
I know, some mayprefer to use prefab modules and stock settings, I never really did.  Least not without adapting them.  Crystal Spheres may not be right for such a GMs gaming style as I am writing it assuming a GM who is going to know the likes and dislikes of their group better and want to set up a game to suit them.


I don't like prefab modules or stock settings either.  That wasn't really what I was getting at.  My point was that you haven't really articulated what Crystal Spheres is about.  You've talked about the setting a great deal and said you wanted the characters to go adventuring, but I don't yet get WHY.  Is it a game about exploration?  Is it a game about this weird-science Ptolemaic universe?  You don't need modules if you've got a vision of what play will be like.  It's easy for GMs to come up with game concepts if you inspire them with that vision.  Right now, my response would be "Cool setting, but what do I do with it?"

Sure, every GM should adapt material for his/her player group, but I shouldn't have to come up with the game's Premise.  "Here's this cool setting, guys, and we're going to use it to explore _______."  I'm sure you have this great vision of what the game's intended to be like, but I'm just not getting it from the material you've put forward.


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Kester Pelagius on March 27, 2003, 10:29:44 AM
Greetings Jonathan,

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
I don't like prefab modules or stock settings either.  That wasn't really what I was getting at.  My point was that you haven't really articulated what Crystal Spheres is about.  You've talked about the setting a great deal and said you wanted the characters to go adventuring, but I don't yet get WHY.  Is it a game about exploration?  Is it a game about this weird-science Ptolemaic universe?  You don't need modules if you've got a vision of what play will be like.  It's easy for GMs to come up with game concepts if you inspire them with that vision.  Right now, my response would be "Cool setting, but what do I do with it?"


Well, as currently set up, it's very much a traditional RPG, in so far as I have left a lot of threades open ended so that GM and players can weave them into the tapestry they desire.

But, as far as the stock 'starter' setting goes, the best way I can put it is this:  There is a map with several spheres.  Only a few are defined, then only in thumbnail.  Of the remaineder three are numerated, so as to allow the GM to place whatever 'world' they want within.

Presently what I was thinking of doing was making everyone start out as Human, either on a planet (and thus just discovering about the 'great beyond' for the first time) or have the players take on the roles of ship captains.  So far I have the rules in place for quickly generating ship captains and crew.

In the latter, which is a 'introductory scenario' to the rules and setting, the players would literally get to role-play an entire vessel.  Though technically the 'captain' would be their main character in the game.

In fact, now that I am sitting here typing, the idea of having everyone start out as human is starting to appeal more and more to me.  So I think that is now set in sandstone.


Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Sure, every GM should adapt material for his/her player group, but I shouldn't have to come up with the game's Premise.  "Here's this cool setting, guys, and we're going to use it to explore _______."  I'm sure you have this great vision of what the game's intended to be like, but I'm just not getting it from the material you've put forward.


True, but what I am hoping to accomplish is a means through which you, as GM or player, can quickly get into the actually game.  But how the game gets started will depend laregely upon what Crystal Sphere the players start in, what culture they are from, what race they are, and etcetera.  The canvas of the campaign setting is potentially vast, but as the voices I hear are saying "give me a definite starting point" then so be it.

How about this:  Players are Humans.  Either discovering their is space and a 'great beyond' for the first time, or Human captains at the helm of a vessel plying the lanes of the great beyond.

Sound better?  Uber worse?


Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


Title: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?
Post by: Mike Holmes on March 27, 2003, 02:10:28 PM
Quote from: Kester Pelagius
The canvas of the campaign setting is potentially vast, but as the voices I hear are saying "give me a definite starting point" then so be it.

Then you're not listening.

We don't only want a starting point, but also an idea of what sort of stuff will happen after the game starts. Yeah, I know, I know, "Who would want to be limited like that?" right? Me. And several other posters here.

OK, so we're human, and we have a ship with which we "ply the lanes".

Whatinthehell does that mean? Once we start "plying" what happens?

You say that I can do the "Star Trek" thing in your game? Well, sure, according to you I can do anything, and the "Star Trek" model must be a subset of anything. But does the game support that in any way? It can't, because you can't have support for everything. So basically the game will handle this as well as, say, GURPS. See, a guy once said, "System Does Matter".

I'd rather play GURPS and use what I've heard already from you. Hell, I ran a Spelljammer-esque game using my own system last GenCon (the write-up is in the Actual Play forum), and I'd never even actually played Spelljammer before. Wasn't hard at all. So what's your game going to have that I need?

The idea with the game is to put in my own setting stuff? And then run the game as an extension? I'd call that an "adventure" or, if more extensive, possibly a supplement. Have you considered that option? A system-neutral add-on for other games? That, at least, I might be slightly interested in.

But a game where I as the GM provide most of the setting, and all of the drive for the action? What am I getting?

Mike