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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Crystal Spheres: Would this game interest you?  (Read 7821 times)
dalek_of_god
Member

Posts: 29


« Reply #15 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
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Dwayne Kristjanson
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #16 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
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Kester Pelagius
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Posts: 508


« Reply #17 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
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"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
Jonathan Walton
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Posts: 1309


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« Reply #18 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.
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Kester Pelagius
Member

Posts: 508


« Reply #19 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
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"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." -Dante Alighieri
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #20 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
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