Friday, November 28, 2008

Details get sharper & universe development

After Thanksgiving Dinner with one of my players we reviewed some of the rules and the equipment lists as they are taking shape. I got some pretty good feedback. We seem to really be working out how to collaborate. He is helping a lot with the simplification of the rules and with helping he when I get too myopic about things that I've written.

Here are a few of the more recent changes:
  • Added an electropathy psion skill. How to write and develop the skill came to me all at once and I enjoyed it enough that I decided to add it even though I thought I was done creating the psionic skills when I wrote my last entry.
  • I've decided to increase the starting limit for how many points characters have per day in their psionic pool.
  • I'm reducing the reload times for the weapons. I had borrowed some of the stats from Fudge list of modern weapons from the and gave them sci-fi names (trying to keep the game less deadly) but the reload times are much higher for modern weapons than sci-fi weapons so I'm fixing that oversight.
  • I'm also going to modify the psionic combat details to allow the same skill to have two expressions; attack and defense. I had originally written it that someone attacking might be damaged by the opponent's retribution. My player thought that was a bit harsh and I agreed with him in the end.
As these mechanical details are coming together, I find my mind turning back to the world. I wrote a 3-page summary of the psionic campaign a few months ago to ask my players what they thought about it. That included a few intial sketches of the factions and relationships that exist in the world. I wrote those notes up in grid format as I usually do since reading this tip on Here's an example of the matrix I use for rating the relationhips between groups and the health/strength of each group. I use the Fudge adjectives in this campaign but in the GURPS campaign I ran I used number 00-10, 11-20, etc. for each row and then just had a number in each cell.

So then I decide on the number of groups. In each of my campaigns, I try to keep to keep the number of groups in the range of 5-9. Here I'm following the rule that typically people can only remember 7 things +/- 2 things. In my GURPS campaign, I created 6 empires and 6 groups within the home city of the PCs empire. In this campaign, I'm using the same rule. I've worked out 6 groups on the PC's home ship and 6 groups in the home quadrant of space. Here is the matrix for the home quadrant of space.

There's more nuance in my mind about these realtionships than gets relfected in the 2D matrix. For example, the relationship between the Religious Separatists and the Main Alien race is listed as Poor. In my mind that is because the Religious Separatists are preaching a doctrine of human supremacy and isolation at best, and advocating an extinction campaign against the Alien race at worst. On the other hand, the Alien race has superior technology and is ignoring the Religious separatists.

I added the final row to show how each group feels about Psions since my PCs are psions. The religious groups are persecuting and exterminating the Psions (Terrible relations), the Alien race is almost entriely psionic so their realtionship with human psions is Great. The relationship between the Free Colonies and Psion groups is very individual based on the colony and its rules/perspectives on psions.

As I plan out the groups the matrix helps me to affix ideas that I've already come up with on specific groups. For example, I knew that I wanted some tensions between different human groups trying to become the main unifying force for all humanity but before doing the matrix, I hadn't figured out which groups that was. The United Colonies, the Merchants, and the Free Colonies are all listed as having internal health of Good so it was easy to imagine that these are the 3 groups that are trying to unify humanity. Niether one strong enough to impose its own ruling principles on the other groups.

Now that I've completed my matrices for the group relationships I'm going to write up more detail with a lot of information in the Unified Colonies entry so that PCs can select which colony in that alliance they are from. I'm also considering telling the PCs that they may create an additional colony that fits their own desires as long as the history of that colony brings it into the Unified Colonies in the end.

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