Friday, September 30, 2011

Wandering to the stars

It's a slow day at work.  Basically, my job is to provide admin support.  Primarily to our Bureau Director, secondarily to one of our regional offices (which is two buildings over and consists of two people) and thirdly to the Bureau in general.  Today the director and both of the regional people are out of the office.  And the Bureau in general rarely asks much of me on a daily basis.  The result is, I have little to do.

When this happens I invariably spend an unhealthy amount of time on Facebook (though lately I'm also on G+ a bit more).  I also let my brain wander to my various and sundry writing ideas, the nature of which is greatly dependent on my current mood.  Today, that mood is Science Fiction, and more specifically, Space Opera.

I am finding myself fascinated with the ideas of space travel, aliens, futuristic weapons, and all of the other things that make up Space Opera.  I tend to like my SO to be a bit gritty and realistic.  I don't mind mystical elements, such as The Force, but really the focus should be on the technology and how the characters interact with it.  Well, that and a decent story.

A lot of this comes from having been a huge Star Wars fan for years, long before I started reading for fun, let alone writing.  Some of my earliest non-D&D role-playing was in TSR's Star Frontiers game.  Although it had the potential to be more "clean" or "hard" sci-fi, like Star Trek, at its core, SF was gritty Space Opera.  I could easily see running and playing in something similar to Firefly using that game.

A few years back, I ran a pretty successful campaign of DragonStar with my gaming group in San Diego.  For those who don't know what DragonStar is, let me summarize:  Take D&D and put it in space.  Keep all of the races, tropes and stereotypes, and add in technology (often mixed with magic), and you have DragonStar.  A lot of people made comparisons to TSR's old SpellJammer games, but it's really a different kind of animal.  My game was very Firefly-esque, and I downplayed the magic somewhat.  In essence it was just a Space Opera game, that also happened to have Elves and Orcs and whatnot.

So, what does all of this mean?  It means that my brain is unfocused and wandering about alien stars today.  So far I have spent an average of about fifteen minutes each on several writing projects, as well as doing lite internet reading into the genre.  I'm also reading an Alpha-Test version of an RPG called Cascade Failure by Greg Christopher.  Really cool stuff here.

Now, when am I going to get a new Space Opera movie or TV series, dammit!?!


Paul R. McNamee said...

DragonStar sounds analogous to Warhammer 40K where they took the fantasy setting into far-flung blood drenched future space opera.

Elves are the mysterious, alien Eldar. Orcs are Orks. Demons don't come from magic as much as from warp space and telepathic gateways into the warp (which is how space is navigated and traveled.)

Apparently, they even tried to transpose dwarfs as "squats". Terrible name and that aspect was wisely dropped.

Tom Doolan said...

Yeah, I played WH40K for a long time. Had an Ork and Gretchin army.

The idea of Fantasy in space seems pretty common in games. DragonStar was less about warfare, unlike the WH universe, and more about playing a D&D-esque adventure in space. The books are out of print, but can be found in used book stores. I highly reccomend picking the main book up if you can. It's a fun read.

Chris Blanchard said...

I remember that Dragonstar campaign! It was far better than mine, and a lot more fun. :) I still have all the books, Dragonstar is too awesome to get rid of.

Charles Gramlich said...

I just posted about watching Treasure Planet, which is a bit of a Disney Space opera piece. I enjoyed it at least. But you've probably seen it.