Or how to create a Galaxy that doesn’t fall apart two days later
Trailed Alliance is the title of a Science Fiction / Space Opera-themed Role-playing game I’ve been working on for some time now. The game’s story takes place in a fictional galaxy far away from current time and place where the main character is the leader of a motley crew of mercenaries who are on the run from corrupt, authoritarian forces.
In case this scant premise sounds like a serious and hard-boiled story, it isn’t intended to be such one. The setting and atmosphere of the game will drive the style for an exciting, futuristic realm that is far more fantastic and peculiar than any average Sci-Fi story. The game draws inspirations from some of the more popular works of the genre, like Star Wars, Bladerunner, Alien, even Star Trek and of course from some of my older CRPG favorites like Sentinel Worlds: Future Magic, Hard Nova, Hired Guns, and Star Wars Galaxies. In case of Star Wars there are many Pen & Paper supplements from the Star Wars D6 and D20 Role-playing games that are a very good source of inspiration since they provide an enormous amount of detail on the Star Wars extended universe. That’s a great treasure trove not only for Star Wars fans but also for game designers like yours.
Indeed there are quite some parallels between Star Wars and Trailed Alliance. To begin with, everything takes place within the confinements of a single galaxy which is completely fictional (and which of course is huge and therefore offers enough room to keep us busy for approx. the next 25 millennia). There are no references to Earth or anything Earth-related. Humans and any other species happen to exist in this universe since an indefinite time, just like in Star Wars. There is intergalactic space travel that can take hours or days for traveling between worlds via some sort of hyperspace. There are androids, ferocious creatures, state-of-the-art spaceships and technology, alien planets, intriguing factions and fantastic adventures. There will be no Force or magic. Instead, Trailed Alliance will feature psychic skills and abilities, something that I personally find far more graspable than hokey magical stuff or The Force in Star Wars. Magic is actually a bit too Deus Ex Machina for my taste. Uncanny, psychic abilities instead sound like being more restricted yet they can be powerful and believable enough to be awesome.
The game’s story will take off in a small part of the galaxy where three sectors lie closely to each other. Two of them, the Telnor and the Marenis sectors (names are tentative) are in a constant state of inter-sectorial cold war. The third one is an independent sector named Kessebour whose authorities have their own agenda regarding the current events. The player takes on the role of a soldier who is on duty in the Telnor sectorial military forces and whose platoon is dispatched to a nearby world that is disputed between Telnor and Marenis. The unfolding events will lead the PC (player character) on a journey through the three sectors and beyond where he/she has to ultimately uncover a conspiracy of superior magnitude. On the way the PC will meet many foes and ally’s (some of whom are going to join the party), discover many exotic places and uncover intricate plots (so far for the theory *cough*!)
Trailed Alliance will be a game for the fan of Space Opera and the connoisseur of oldschool role-playing games that make use of detailed statistics and where combat is turn-based, with a great deal of focus on tactical fighting that involves the whole party. The hybrid class/skill system offers many skills and classes and allows for creating interesting multi-class characters. A vast galaxy offers a huge amount of possibilities and Trailed Alliance is bound to feature a lot of gameplay freedom: Besides the typical RPG mechanics like fighting, healing, dialogue, traveling, etc. the PCs are able to steal ships, hunt or tame wild creatures, fly through subspace, fight or board other ships, land on planets, walk (or drive) around on their surface, discover unknown worlds, camp in the wilderness, mine resources, craft items, eat and drink, check into a hotel on the Manressa Orbital station while their ship is in the dry dock, and watch the three moons of T’ynar rise on the crimson firmament.
By now you will probably realize what I mean when I wrote that Trailed Alliance is a rather ambitious project. It is quite an undertaking, yes, but it is just as much fun to design this world.