These are the words that have inspired role players and fans alike for decades. When we think of adventure science fiction with a realistic angle, we think of Star Trek primarily. This loved franchise has seen its reboots ridiculed by a loyal and knowledgeable older fan base throughout various stages. When we think of gritty science fiction we think of the seminal works of Alien and Aliens but there are many more stand out examples like Outland and Soldier.
Then there are other science fiction space offerings like Star Wars, Dune, Flash Gordon the space western/opera. Supernatural science fiction such as Event Horizon, Night Fliers and Life Force all add an element of horror and otherworldliness to the genre.
Another really stand out science fiction series which never reached completion was Firefly, when this first came it was a breath of fresh air for the genre blurring the lines with its take on a colonisation attempt/post-apocalyptic space western with supernatural elements. Where does Firefly sit, can it simply be called science fiction drama. The writers of the series really tried to portray space as the hash environment which it is and added a vast number of human stories by focusing on interplay between characters. The overarching class struggle was very present, but the writers did not focus on the heavy-handed approaches taken by modern science fiction such as snow piercer, Firefly was made for a more intelligent audience much like earlier Star Trek.
What is space science fiction? Does it need to be defined into subgroups what elements make it through and what does not?
If you are creating games for your players, then as a game master you have all of these influences to draw from, and as our game is open to interpretation you can pick and choose how much you focus on the horror, action, grit, social, political or other elements from these works. Your players and you are making a shared story the most important aspect of which is the enjoyment of the experience for all the participants.
What tools does Dark Stars offer?
The Dark Stars core rule book provides a good starting point, and you can try downloading the playtest kits or free rules from the website. We have expanded these rules with the Off the Rack equipment book, which has a large selection of vehicles. We really wanted to add a space colonisation setting and through our Kickstarter we were able to do that. The Colonisation book was born out of a campaign where characters from the Block worked through a series of challenges as Peace offers in the block then eventually won their freedom and way out joining the British Fleet. The players all then had the task of colonising and exploring planets. Using the long running task system and some custom generation systems, the colonies were able to be created, supernatural elements were first used (because my games often include them at some point). As a group they succeeded in creating a colony and were preparing to join the new coalition of local stars. It was a long campaign, spanning about a year. During this period all the systems, rules and equipment were thought about but not really codified and defined.
After the Kickstarter, I jumped right on getting all this written down and codified I always underestimate how long a book takes to develop, but it was completed around February this year. The art took a few more months and proofing and printing then took another 3. I’m pleased with the Colonization book, it has what I wanted to do a system for colonizing a world including researching new technologies, discoveries and mining prospects and the establishment of a permanent space colony. I hope you look at the book and find it useful for your campaign. Once again, thank you to the supporters on Kickstarter who made this happen, reached out and asked for some specific features like the complete creation of alien species. We did it, it is done it’s got some good stuff and it will help you with systems and thoughts for running a space colonization game.