A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I was getting into sci fi gaming. For most of my gaming career, sci fi received virtually no attention. Most of the time (especially in the ‘90s) I preferred historical. I did not dislike sci fi. I adored Star Wars when it came out (although I was far less excited about the later movies) and I religiously watched Star Trek. Playing the Star Wars: The OldRepublic MMO RPG spurred an interest in sci fi gaming. I realized that the genre had a few advantages
1. Open Ended – when devising a historical (or even imagi-nations) or fantasy RPG campaign, I am strongly tempted to map out as much of the setting as possible. This approach can quickly derail the campaign as I pour my energies into preparing rather than gaming. I learned from the Star Wars MMO that a sci fi campaign does not need detailed maps. It is very easy to just plop a planet where needed without having it mapped out first. After all, the galaxy is a big place so the mapmakers may have easily overlooked that planet that seemed to have sprung out of nowhere.
2. Substitutable – This dawned on me as I was developing my spaceship battle rules, which are modeled after WWII naval battles. With some imagination, practically any historical (or fantasy) conflict could be reproduced using sci fi minis. Want to do Jutland in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of WWI? Pull out your spaceships. Gallipoli could become a landing on a hostile planet. Using this approach, you don’t have to paint up new forces each time you get the itch to do a new period. Just convert it to a sci fi scenario.
3. Accuracy Not Needed – You never have to worry about someone criticizing the historical accuracy of your miniatures (unless you use a pre-existing setting, i.e. Star Trek. I just find it so much easier to create my own universe). You can also take a science fantasy approach, which allows you to ignore some science as well. In my universe, spaceships can easily jump across half a galaxy in little time; I just don’t worry how.
4. Scratch Building – because you don’t have to worry about historical accuracy, you can get by with simple scratch built forces (like I did with my navies and armies). This saves money.
Overall, I am finding that sci fi is easier than any other genre.