I guess Sunday is becoming the regular day for these articles as I accidentally find myself writing them at the end of the week, but that’s ok! Today I want to share with you three more setting to inspire you. Their links will take you to the wikis, mostly because most of you geeks will be vaguely familiar with them already. My goal today isn’t to reveal new settings to look at, but to tell you why I think they are some of the best to take inspiration from. The theme today? Sci-fi.
Star Wars has been a sci-fi inspiration for decades and there is good reason. These movies are science fantasy as much as anything. Psionics (the Force), knights, different races, swords. Star Wars has it all. Technology is so advanced, and yet things are incredibly mundane in so many ways. Regardless, Star Wars has grown and developed into something so much more than it originally was. There are so many eras, characters, creatures, stories, themes, etc, etc, etc. Just look at what Fantasy Flight Games is doing for it as an RPG right now. One rule set to tell the story of bounty hunters, explorers, rebels, or Jedi. If you want, all of them! The setting is so diverse, and yet easily recognizable and containing of a certain feel. No matter what type of game you are playing there is a Star Wars story out there for you to take clues and hints from.
Star Trek is far more science fiction than Star Wars. Technobabble at its finest, space exploration, technological oddities, and futuristic problems. Sure there are fantasy like elements, just take Q for example, but when you get that deep into sci-fi that is bound to happen. When it comes down to it these are just handled differently. Advanced alien life forms vs. gods and goddesses. The thing about Star Trek is that it is a wonderful amalgam of large scale problems and small scale missions and exploration. There are dozens of races who are friendly and work together, some who haven’t been seen yet, some who are neutral, and some at war with the Federation. It is a wonderful tableau of a campaign setting. Star Wars is diverse but its a very good vs. evil story. Star Trek is where you dive into the grey areas, the questions, and the unique situations. A GM can learn a lot from an episode of Star Trek!
How could I make this list without including Doctor Who? This show represents a whole other side of science fiction. It is at once incredibly complex, but very simple. Time travel, paradoxes, life and death situations, impossibilities. Doctor Who isn’t about fighting the enemy, it isn’t about good vs. evil, and it isn’t about exploring in the strictest sense. Doctor Who is about right vs. wrong and the grey area exists quite heavily in the show. It is about confronting wrong and doing something about it and it is about growth. It is about overcoming odds, no matter how overwhelming. Tabletop roleplaying games are about the same thing, overcoming odds. Sure exploring a dungeon is fun. Sometimes it is literal evil you are fighting. But sometimes, it is about confronting a problem there is no good answer to and making a choice.*
*Despite my praise for Doctor Who in these regards I do recognize Star Trek does the same, often. Just hear Picard’s line, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.”