Blog Carnival

RPG Blog Carnival: Let's Show a Little Love for Spacemaster!


It's been a while since I've posted a blog entry but thought I would jump on this month's Blog Carnival to get back started into do a blog weekly. It was really a hard choice. After all this month's topic is Pimp A Game. So which little played game to show love to? I was toying with Justifiers RPG, but I no longer have that game. In the end, I decided on SpaceMaster.

SpaceMaster is an old game from Iron Crown Enterprises. The version of the game that I've played a lot and still own is the one based on Rolemaster version 2. This was before all the RMSS silly that happened.

So what was so great about SpaceMaster you ask? After all it was based on Rolemaster. Is not Rolemaster a complex game? Strangely enough, parts of SpaceMaster were much simpler than Rolemaster. For example, there were certainly a lot fewer weapons charts. Much like Middle Earth Roleplaying (MERP), it's charts combined many weapons on a single chart. Have a laser rifle, it use the laser chart. Have a laser pistol, it uses the laser chart. The only difference is where they max out on the chart much like Rolemaster's shock bolt or fire bolt spell charts. The super fun critical charts remain the same.

One of the other things that was interesting was the fact that even with an implied setting, one could still create and use one's own setting. Much like Rolemaster, they have a rather interesting section that gives information on creating your own. Which is nice because I'm not 100% down with the 10,000 years in the future setting that comes with SpaceMaster. I found it was usually pretty simple of just removing some of the races, equipment, and some skills. Being an old Traveller player, I prefer my FTL to take a little longer. The default speeds of FTL are something around 10 LY per day. I usually divided that by 10. Which was useful because one could easily use published material with just a little work.

If one also had the Star Strike and Armored Assault Games, then Gear Heads could make short work of the design systems. One thing that I always thought was cool was the fact that vehicle and starship construction rules were nearly identical. As a matter of fact by combining the rules, you could create a starship that has vehicle drive system (or vice-verse). Outside of maybe Mega-Traveller, I can't think of too many games that had that amount uniformity across starship and vehicles.

The nice thing is that you can get various parts of the Spacemaster from DriveThruRPG. So check it out if you feel so inclined.

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Why Tweak an Established Setting?


Let's face it as a game master in a busy world, we don't have a lot of time to always come up with our own setting. To our rescue many times is the established setting. Sometimes even, the game has such a setting implied. Take the game I've been playing a lot of, The Savage World of Solomon Kane. The whole point of the game is to play in the setting of Solomon Kane. Of course other times, it's also the de facto standard setting for a system. In Traveller, the Imperium is such a setting. While you can play games outside that setting, all the rules and supplements are going to be based on it.

So with all the pressures of time and the wealth of information out there for established settings, why on earth would you want to even bother to tweak the setting?

First off, let's face it. If it's a good setting, then your players may have read all the material. Let me give an example. As a person who has played Traveller and run Traveller quite a bit, I have read most of the Classic Traveller material out there. Which means that if I was a player, I would likely have too much meta-game knowledge. As a good player, I would not try to have that influencing how I play my character. Still, I'm sure in small ways it might. As a GM, having a player like that could ruin what I'm trying to run. This can be especially true if the player has read things that you the GM hasn't read.

Second as GM, we do like to invent things. Which means we want to make our own mark on the world in question.

Third without knowing it, you are already tweaking an established setting. Yes that's right you are. Just by using the material, the GM and players are making their own interpretations of the material presented. Let's use a simple example, maybe the description for an NPC king says that he's sad about the death of his daughter. Now the material may give examples of how that's effected his kingdom. Still as GM, you will have to decide how that NPC may act in the front of the players if it's not already stated. All of which means your sad king may act differently than another GM's version of that same sad king. Congratulations, you have already tweaked your game and didn't know it.

So what sort of tweaks can you as the GM make easily?

• Change the Names of certain places.- Change the name of Inn or tavern or move where it is.
• Add/Change/Delete NPCs in the setting. - Maybe flesh our that sad king's adviser
• Add/Change/Delete monsters and their treasure.
• Flesh out locations

No matter what, you need to let the players know that just because they have read the material doesn't mean you haven't changed it in some way. This will prevent arguments in the future. One should always be on guard against fan boys and girls.

One word of warning. If you use an established setting, please don't expect your players to have read 60 pages of setting background. If you do, you will be disappointed. Create a one to two page summary if you can.

Just remember, it's your game and you get to do things you want to do. Using an established setting is just a jumping off point that prevents the GM from having to creating everything.

Update: I forgot to include a link back to original Blog Carnival Post. So, here it is.

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