Friday, May 23, 2014

Waddayamean We Don't Have to Go to Volturnus?

TSR put out six major role-playing games in the 1970s and early 1980s.  Top Secret (Spies), Boot Hill (Western), Gamma World (Post Apocalyptic), Gangbusters (Gangster Era America), Star Frontiers (Space Opera) and another one that slips my mind at the moment.  There were of course some others notably the pretty terrible Conan the Barbarian and Indiana Jones games.  Oh right, the one I forgot above was Marvel Super Heroes.  Still seems like I am still forgetting something...

I owned most of the games I listed in that first sentence.  Star Frontiers was the notable exception.  My only experience with it was watching my algebra teacher confiscate a copy from one of my classmates as a Freshman in High School.  That seems like an odd oversight especially given how much more product support there was for SF over the years.  Looking back, I suppose that space gaming just was not high on my list of priorities.

The Kurabanda Chieftan, an
honorless dog... er, monkey...
It was only last year that I finally dipped my toe into the SF universe, to find that I rather enjoyed it.  At least when the environment of the game itself wasn't trying to kill me.  I can, without reservation, tell my entire readership that they should never, never, never, never go to Volturnus.  Never.  The travel brochures lie.  Also, I will attest that the Kurabanda have no honor.  Truth.

That said, the Star Frontiers game had pirates and criminals and crazy (as opposed to mad) scientists and people to save. Good times.  The game master, one of the rotating Player-GMs in my Sunday game, was a long time devotee of the universe and knew what was going on.  We played the game in Savage Worlds and my character went from a complete newb all the way to "so Legendary I can't figure out what advance to take next" level. Through it all he managed to carry an unopened box of cheeze doodles, an accomplishment that I am absurdly proud of.

When considering space games to potentially run for this blogging exercise, Star Frontiers came to mind for a couple of very good reasons, but there were some reservations as well.  Primarily, unless I run this game for the weekday group, there is the possibility that I might be stepping on the toes of the other GM.  I would hate to run the game if he considered it HIS domain.  Also, there is the very real fact that he knows the game world with the kind of consciousness that decades of exposure to the material can provide.  I will never know as much about the Star Frontiers universe as he already does.

Ready for action.  Except the Dralasite on the left.
He looks like he is about to sneeze.

On the other hand, it perhaps he is like me and runs the game because he wants to play in the world but never gets the opportunity.  I know that I would be thrilled to play in a regular 7th Sea, Legend of the Five Rings or Savage Mars game.  I have run those games, the first two a LOT, because no one else will.  If that is the case then maybe this game is one of the best options of the month.  It is always a good idea to make your once and future GM happy!

That said, my knowledge of the game world is kinda spotty.  Much of the original material is available online, but is a melange of radically different rules systems, optional, but sometimes treated like cannon races, and  the sort of muddy writing that made gaming in the 80s both the best of times and the worst of times.  Likewise, the preprinted modules are all well trod material for some of my potential players, so they are not likely a good source of anything but inspiration.  In order to get my footing, I think a first adventure with very little chance go off the rails is in order.  The players are in that cosmopolitan hub Port Loren when a general call goes out.  Local datanets indicate that PanGalactic Corporation's CEO Chang Kim Lee is looking for a ship's crew for a personal mission and fast!  Mr. Lee has the kind of connections that can make a career, or break one.  The PCs, looking for adventure, wealth, and gainful employment, will likely jump at the chance to get in good with such an important personage.  This is the kind of opportunity that a body would kill for.  Too bad someone with low morals is willing to do just that to the PCs...


  1. I am pretty sure he loves Star Frontiers enough to want to play in it. He also is crazy found of Traveller.. I do think its like you say,, about your wanting to run 7th Sea because its so cool you want to play 7thSea. Perhaps now we should all just take turns.... I, also, never want to go back to Volturnus... I think that was my third trip... I mercifully blot them from my mind.. good games, bad planet.. see. I told you.

  2. Part of the problem is finding a GM who is comfortable with the material. A player can be uncertain at the beginning of a game and then engage more with the material as she gets deeper into a campaign. The GM needs to have some sort of comfort level from the jump or everyone could have a bad time. That is one of the reasons I never ran a Supers game before this year, I just wasn't truly as versed in the genre as I felt was necessary to do the job.