Using Established Settings

Monday, 6. December 2010

Yay, star wars trilogy

Although I don’t watch a tremendous amount of television for movies for that matter, I’m always fascinated by the huge amounts of time that goes into making them.  Not only do you have to pen everything in, you have to create everything visually as well and then take your time filming it to get the shots you want.   It’s produces a well defined setting that looks like it would be great to play in… except for the fact that in most cases the settings are already encased in stone.  We can use books and TV for sake of the argument as well, since they’re more or less the same backdrop.

Star wars is a pretty good example to work with because everyone is familiar with the setting, most people like it for one reason or another and consequently a lot of people play it.  It has a predisposed timeline and major characters however.. events X, Y and Z will happen unless you’re playing away from something that is canon.  As a result any other action that goes on can never be within the first chair of action.  You’re lucky if you get into second, but most of the time you would be third or even fourth.  If you’re game for that, go ahead.  I want my players to have the flexibility to do nearly anything without inconveniences such as pre written story to adhere to. 

This is precisely why I love Knights of the Old Republic.  Nothing like a few thousand years of blank slate to play with, of course with the exception of whats already established in terms of planets, technology and setting.  You have virtually all of the advantages, and none of the hinderances from above.

This can go with pretty much any setting you might imagine of course; Willow, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Narnia, Terminator, Blade runner all have very interesting settings that you can work with, except for the established timeline.  I think the consistency that film produces is some of the draw to these, everyone more or less sees the same thing with the exception of what details are you focusing on.  Eventually however you’re going to run into that while playing unless you set your campaign far enough ahead of or behind whats already going on.  Or, maybe just do a series of short adventures within the settings.

That is the angle that I generally try and work from - before or after the time lines or just do a short series of one off adventures that fall in-between or perhaps run parallel to the main movie plot.  I avoid using any of the main characters like the plague, unless they are pure background characters.  If I wanted fan fiction I’d write it!

Who else uses some of the established settings, and what are your work arounds?

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