Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Assholes in Space: A Brief Introduction

Along with continuing my ideas for the Motherlode D&D campaign and adaptations of S John Ross's Uresia for use with Basic-style D&D, I want to use the month of March to talk about an old campaign idea that has been sitting on my mental backburner for a while now, known colloquially as Assholes in Space. The original idea for the game came from a very interesting combination of influences that created a very specific image of a campaign setting in my mind.

Most science fiction fans have read Neuromancer. It's the book that launched a thousand dark futures and is directly responsible for Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, GURPS Cyberpunk and dozens of other less well known roleplaying games. In my senior year of college, I was listening to a BBC Radio 'play of the week' adaptation of Neuromancer before going to sleep and what really stuck out to me about the story in audio form was the Rastafarian Space Navy. I'd always liked Maelcum in the novel, but hearing the reggae thumping in the background of a slow motion deep space cruise just made me think, "There must be characters like this in every science-fiction setting." Somewhere in the Star Wars universe, there must be a guy who thinks that living in space is just the coolest and spends his days floating around smoking space-weed and listening to space-reggae (there are probably names for these in the Star Wars universe, but my EU knowledge is a bit rusty.) The combination of music with the silent background of space reminded me of Cowboy Bebop's fantastic eclectic soundtrack and the western twang of zero gravity in the Firefly universe.

The other major influence was actually a Wushu play-by-post game on RPGnet that I was involved in called A Million Billion Bastards (right here if you've got an account.) The setting was described as "Take Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Getbackers, Xenosaga, Ghost in the Shell, and a dozen other influences, toss 'em in a blender, and hit puree." It was a real melange of influences, all decidedly cinematic, and while it lasted, it was really fun. But what I really took away from it was the 'anything goes' idea of worldbuilding. Don't worry about whether or not something in an over-the-top cinematic galaxy is realistic or even plausible. Don't be afraid to just wing it. Cybernetics, psionics, rifles as long as some people are tall, four-armed aliens and genetically altered killing machines are all welcome in this universe. Fun is fun and if the campaign can accommodate everyone's idea of fun, so much the better.


  1. I approve of any campaign proposal that admits right in the title that the PCs are jerkwads of some sort.

  2. Albeit jerkwads with hearts of gold. I really want to find a title that conveys that exact same response without swears, but it's much harder than it seems.