I’m doing a deep dive into Lin Carter’s Imaginary Worlds (first article), and I’ve finally gotten to his last chapter in which he gives advice to writers:
When a writer first begins evolving in his imagination and his notebooks, the raw materials that he intends to shape into an imaginary world, he should think through the problem through to its logical ramifications.
…despite the convictions of occultists and the religiosi of the several faiths, in the actual world magic simply does not work… and an invented world, therefore, that includes the super natural element must be–has to be–very different from his own. Any writer…. should think through all its implications.
If you’ve just tuned in, Lin Carter was a Fantasy author and editor who flourished roughly from the 50s to the 70s. He was a far better editor than author, however his stories are reliable comfort reads, and compensate for lack of depth with fast pacing and unconstrained imagination. No surprise, then, that his thoughts on Fantasy worlds are worth reading. He gives them in X entertaining secions.
Elite Dangerous, the current incarnation of the granddaddy of all immersive video games, now has its own tabletop roleplaying game, and I’m sitting here with a review copy.
The problem with the video game is that, even with the new ability to land on airless worlds and trundle around in AFVs, it’s essentially space exploration on the radio. You don’t get to land on the worlds with interesting cultures and brawl with gangsters or tread the mean streets, or avoid being the main course at a barbaric religious ceremony. A tabletop roleplaying game has the potential to supply those missing experiences. But does the franchise really need its own game? (As you’ll see, “Yes, actually.”)
Frankly, I half-expected Elite Dangerous Role Playing Game(EDRPG) to be a cynically put together I can’t believe it’s not Traveller-lite (please don’t send round lawyers with pulse lasers) with a detailed trade mini-game.Instead I found myself reading what’s clearly a labor of love that emulates a different corner of the Star Punk genre, and does so with an emphasis — in the core rules — on what you do when you’re not trading. It’s also loaded with material pitched for beginner GM’s, but — again in the core rules — assumes some familiarity with the computer game; not disastrous, but confusing if you haven’t played Elite seriously in four decades (I’m told there will be free material on the website to help with this).
Given Elite Dangerous has 2-3 million players, and a cult of enthusiasts who enjoy the “shared” part of “shared escapism,” Elite Dangerous Roleplaying Game promises to be an instant modern classic. It’s a good thing, then, that the game mechanics are elegant, but more refined than innovative, which is what you want in something obviously intended as a workhorse to support happy years of sandbox gaming.